South African festival traveller by second time director Oliver Hermanus with ambiguously metrosexual Charlie Keegan.
Some 60-year old man (intense Deon Lotz as François) marries off his first of two daughters. His wife is cheating on him, he is cheating on her – one might think: nothing out of the ordinary, nothing we haven’t seen in the cinema before. If only chez Sam Mendes in “American Beauty”. (Unsure as to how consciously the title relates to that drama).
Christian (Charlie Keegan) is an old pal’s son. Together with his family he lives in the far Cape Town – a mere 15 hour drive from Bloemfontein. And it is for Christian that François will fall. A closeted gay for countless years, probably the worst thing is, his younger daughter Anika also fancies Christian and tends to spend a lot of time with him. Jealousy combined with suppressed obsessions and desires – Freud would probably have something to say here.
The plot is quite scary mainly because François does not show his emotions or plans on his face. He is as calculated as a serious killer. He is also unpredictable and unstoppable. What sets of as almost innocent act of observing Christian during the wedding, finishes in one dark place where few would expect to find François. Not only is he a stalker, he is also the predator hunting the victim down.
This is a strong voice in one sided discussion on homophobia, with its old rule – those that are least tolerant, are the ones having lots to hide.
The main success of the film is the casting – Charlie Keegan is the dangerous combination attracting both sexes who never openly admits to being on either side. Hence the tragic jealously of the father towards his daughter. They both think Christian could be theirs. Christian is the embodiment of 21st century title beauty – the perfect Adonis anyone will fall for.
“Beauty” is a shocking picture unveiling how those perceived to be perfectly ‘normal’ citizens, live double lives and are still able to keep the face on the surface, to remain ‘normal’ – in accordance with the main stream, when in fact they are the exact opposite to what they seem.
Powerful cinema with numerous experiments on the level of story telling, soundtrack and space left to the audience for interpretation.
Also check out this amazing review: