This Beautiful Fantastic (2016)

This Beautiful Fantastic
Director: Simon Aboud
Writer: Simon Aboud
Cast: Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Jeremy Irvine, Tom Wilkinson, Anna Chancellor, Eileen Davies
Seen on: 26.6.2017

Bella (Jessica Brown Findlay) works at a library and dreams of writing children’s books. But first, she has to get a handle on her life because it’s currently falling apart: because she has to check her locks a lot to make sure they’re really closed, she’s always late to work and her grumpy neighbor Alfie (Tom Wilkinson) has sicced her landlord on her who threatens to evict her if she doesn’t clean up her garden. The only trouble is that Bella really doesn’t like plants. But fortunately she can win over Alfie’s cook Vernon (Andrew Scott) to help her out. And there’s also the befuddled library patron and inventor Billy (Jeremy Irvine) who takes a liking to her and vice versa.

This Beautiful Fantastic tries very hard to be Amélie but fails on almost all levels, becoming sickly sweet and so very twee that I could barely stand it.

The only thing that really worked for me about the film was Andrew Scott’s Vernon. He was a charming, cute character that I liked and I wanted to see the film he apparently walked over from. Pretty much everybody else in the film was doomed with their characters who are flat and one-note and way too stereotypical. In fact, I’d hesitate to call Bella a character at all: She’s a walking bundle of quirks in a beautiful packaging (watching Jessica Brown Findlay is always nice) and felt mostly like boner material for the writer of this film. But, you know, boner material for your average intellectual: because he doesn’t just like her for her pretty face, but also because of her personality, making him so much better than your average dude who just goes “tits! ass! ooga ooga!”

Only that her personality consists of OCD symptoms (but only the ones that are cute and not too burdensome, not that you get the idea that they actually were interested in mental illness here) and a strange upbringing, both designed to make her vulnerable enough so that her beauty doesn’t translate to arrogance. And by arrogance I mean a will of her own: All of the men in the film tell Bella what to do, after all, and she complies. And because she accepts the men’s take on her life, she starts to blossom, of course.

And – apart from her boss at the library (Anna Chancellor, underused and sidelined) with whom she has an antagonistic relationship – Bella is only surrounded by men who fall over themselves to please her. Though that part of it is not necessarily an unrealistic portrayal, it was annoying as fuck and I wanted her to have at least one girlfriend or some kind of friendly exchange with another woman.

To top it all off, not even the romance worked for me at all. Not in the slightest. I can’t think of any example where I saw so little chemistry and romantic tension between a couple who were obviously supposed to have the romance of the century. And that was just the last thing to really suck the joy out of this film.

Summarizing: Skip it.

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