Review: Beautiful Beings
Digital: Beautiful Beings (2022)
Beautiful Beings (original Icelandic title Berdreymi) begins with 14-year-old Baldur (Balli). He’s odd, smells, has a wonky eye and is mercilessly bullied, beaten and peed on in school. After being beaten senseless in an underpass he appears on TV in a news report about the wild youth of Iceland.
Returning to school in mask, he is suicidal and just as he’s about to slash his wrists, Addi, Konni and Siggi approach him, not to save him but to bum a fag.
And here we have the 4 boys at the heart of Beautiful Beings.
A tale of 4 dysfunctional lads, roaming around and being in turn, cruel and kind, naughty and good. They take to to Balli and when they find out his murderer stepdad is in prison and his drug addicted mum is ‘out’, they decide to make his house their meeting place.
Shot around Iceland this looks like a cold film, washed out greys, pale blues and concrete clad, along with scruffy lads who are always smoking a fag, spitting and smirking, this is a real coming of age tale with an Icelandic twist.
You see Addi’s (Birgir Dagur Bjarkason ) family were part of a cult that believed in aliens and …stuff, and Addi has golden visions. Now that may sound daft, but despite the content of this film; murder, beatings, male and female rape, drug taking, bullying, violence, addiction, dysfunction, Addi’s visions are a perfect fit.
Now my description above explains that this isn’t an easy watch, and more than once I not only shouted at the screen but really needed a break from the relentless hopelessness and violence. However, I kept watching till the end because despite its hardcore content – the camera never removes its gaze, brutal rape, horrendous beatings, its also filled with cameradery and tenderness. Addi’s vision of Balli’s sister’s abuse at the hands of her step-father is turned into a renaissance tableau that could have been painted by Artemisia Gentileschi.
It’s hard watch, but it’s a great film, thankfully too ‘much’ to be re-made by Hollywood, but one of my favourite films of the year.
Signature Entertainment presents Beautiful Beings on Digital Platforms 30th January 2023.
Review by Tina from a streaming link kindly supplied by Signature Entertainment.