Beauty is an interesting yet eerily creepy South African film that takes a look at how the sexual repression and frustration of someone in a homophobic environment can impact and severely mentally scar a person.
The film centres on Francois (Deon Lotz), an openly racist and homophobic married South African man in his forties, who, after indulging in sexual activity with men in private, becomes obsessed with the son of friend. As the film moves along and develops, we see Francois’ repressed homosexual feelings gradually sending his mental health into decline, and the attraction he feels towards Christian (Charlie Keegan), his friend’s son, turn into a loathing which culminates in a horrific and unpleasant encounter that will leave most viewers uneasy.
The film has many excellent points, the main being the premise to the film and the themes running throughout, which allows people to see the impact a homophobic and repressive society can have on people and how this can impact on others around you. The film is shot in a way that gives it a very dark and eerie tone, which reflects the undercurrent of Francois’ gradual mental decline. This is also backed up by the creepy and uneasy music that plays throughout most of the film. Lotz gives an excellent performance as Francois, as the audience really connects with his poor mental state and spends the majority of the film wondering what he’s going to do, and ultimately how can he live with himself.
The setting and music coupled with the performance from Lotz helps drive the film from beginning to end. As there are a vast amount of scenes in the film with minimal or no dialogue, these three elements allow the audience to understand what is going on, what Francois is thinking and serve as the ultimate disequilibrium running throughout.
However, although there may be many good points with the film, it isn’t completely perfect. A number of issues arise in certain parts of the film such as extended scenes that feel unnecessary and could have probably been cut or shortened, such as Francois unpacking his suitcase in a hotel room and a scene where he sits in his living room, doing nothing.
The film also has segments where it starts to build up but ultimately falls flat and the scenes go nowhere. This was mainly at the beginning of the film, so if you don’t feel gripped from the beginning don’t worry as it gets better around half way through.
Overall Verdict: Overall despite its negative points, Beauty is an excellent look at how certain negative views present in society can lead to the destruction of a person’s mental health, life and ultimately someone else’s. However if it had been executed a little better then this film would have been perfect from start to finish, without any flat parts in between.
Reviewer: Lewis Shepherd