Saturday, April 4, 2015

Beautiful Thing

Movie Name: Beautiful Thing
Year of Release: 1996
Director: Hettie Macdonald
Stars: Glen Berry, Scott Neal, Linda Henry, Ben Daniels, Tameka Empson, Daniel Bowers, John Benfield, Garry Cooper
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

"Beautiful Thing" is the debut feature of director Hettie Macdonald, who has since gone on to direct prestige projects for the BBC. The film is an adaptation of the play by celebrated writer Jonathan Harvey, and follows the story of Jamie, a 16 year old boy who lives with his mom in the suburbs of London. Jamie gets his fair share of bullying at school, and overcomes it all by immersing himself in films, music and his friendship with his neighbor, Leah (a huge Mama Cass fan). His other neighbor, is also a school friend, the athletic and quiet Ste, himself a victim of bullying, but mostly domestic from his abusive father and brother. These two young men, find themselves thrown together, and slowly fall in love against all odds. 
"Beautiful Thing" manages to superbly capture the life of the English suburbs, very much in the vein of Mike Leigh, showcasing the reality of living with few means, but it also stages the evolution of the love story in a way that makes the film look like an alternate reality. Hettie Macdonald also directs the young cast in a naturalistic way, managing to capture the pains and surprises of being in love, of being different, and how the adult world that surrounds the central pair, reacts to their burgeoning relationship. All these nuances make this film truly memorable, with highlights also going to the great cast, namely Glen Berry, Scott Neal, Linda Henry, Tameka Empson and Ben Daniels. This eclectic ensemble brings this multifaceted story to life, benefiting from a nostalgic score and cinematography from Chris Seager. A great film worth discovering.