One night, four men. Set in Philadelphia, Beautiful Something follows the lives of a quartet of gay guys as they search for what they truly desire and question what they have in their lives. Brian is a writer with one success under his belt, but who has a block about penning his follow-up and as a result is confronting whether his visions of himself as an artist are somewhat delusional and if he’ll have to give up the life he’s built and head back home. He seeks distraction in hook ups and then decides to lay out his feelings to his straight friend.
Drew meanwhile is a renowned sculptor working on a new piece, for which his young boyfriend Jim acts as his muse. However, this seemingly innocuous set-up unleashes Jim’s inner insecurities, causing him to wonder whether their relationship is real or just about Drew’s art. Finally there’s the older Bob, a wealthy talent agent who’s cruising the streets of the City Of Brotherly Love, although even he seems unsure what he’s searching for. He’s just hoping to stumble on a ‘beautiful something’.
As you might be able to guess from that synopsis, there’s a slightly pretentious air to Beautiful Something. That would be more of a problem if it didn’t have anything to back up its bohemian, slightly hipster leanings, but it’s very watchable, drawing you in by creating interesting characters who keep you intrigued and who reveal more depth than you might expect.
The film is marked by being filled with things which on paper might seem like a bad idea, but which work surprisingly well. For example, there are several very long, very talky scenes involving just a couple of characters. In theory they should be pretty dull, but they’re actually extremely well handled, with each one acting almost like an individual short film set within the narrative, but which still fit within the overall flow of the movie.
Sometimes the film does slow down to a snail’s pace, and seems in danger of becoming far too pleased with itself. There are also more than a few moments where it pushes the characters to the point where they start to feel annoyingly self-centred. Thankfully it always manages to them pull them back by remembering the emotional core of the journey they’re on and not just what the script wants to say about it.
There are times when it’s sexy, moments when it’s fairly intense and director Joseph Graham does a great job of creating an oddly mysterious air that hangs over the movie, allowing his characters to be question marks wandering the city looking for various forms of connection. It may never get a massive audience, but many of those who do see it will appreciate the journey it takes you on.
Overall Verdict: Beautiful Something is certainly not a movie for everyone, and some will undoubtedly dislike its slightly meandering nature and the fact it favours talk over action. However, those willing to invest will find a movie with more depth and ideas than it initially appears.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac