Filmhounds Magazine

All things film – In print and online

Beautiful Beings (Film Review)

2 min read

Following up on his 2016 feature film debut, Heartstone, writer and director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson returns with Beautiful Beings, a story about boyhood and friendship, tilting on the edge of destruction and ultimately a vicious act of revenge.

After being hospitalised by bullies at school, lonely Balli is tentatively befriended by the understanding Addi, the sarcastic Siggi and the short-tempered Konni. Together they carve out an existence, trying to have fun and escaping their home lives. But after Konni's temper gets the group into trouble with older and more violent people and with the return of Balli's abusive stepfather, the boys have to decide if revenge and retaliation is really the way to live.

Violence is played out like a way of life, a rite of passage, and a way to survive. The cruelty that Balli is subjected to at the very start sets the tone for the film. These boys will commit acts of violence and be victims of violence. Each of the boys in the group either physically or verbally hurting one another, with the exception of Balli, once he is accepted by the other boys. Despite the heavy emphasis on violence, the camaraderie between the boys feels thin but it is only with the addition of Balli that bonds become stronger. The true test of friendship doesn't come until the end once we find out where the boys are after the major climax in the story. This reveal feels inevitable from the moment Addi takes pity on Balli and they share cigarettes. But there is still a sense that wounds that run deep with take long to heal but everything played out as it should.

The supernatural elements to the story are slowly and subtly introduced. Firstly, through Addi's clairvoyant mum who believes she has entered her children's dreams. Soon Addi starts to have visions himself that predict what will happen to his friends. Starting off at images of comfort that distort into distressing warnings. These visions are laughed at by the group, except Balli who is more sensitive to Addi's visions, thus cementing this new friendship and ultimate trust between the boys. Although Konni and Addi are at first seen to have the strongest bond, it is clear that these two boys have different paths ahead.

Guðmundsson's story plays out like a coming-of-age story with supernatural moments. With few light moments and frequent images and acts of violence, there is little space to come for air from this ultimately bleak story. Through beautifully acted by the four central actors with equally beautiful images in Addi's visions. The darkness overtakes with little joy expressed on screen, especially when there is meant to be joy to be had.

 

Beautiful Beings will be released on Digital Platforms on 30th January by Entertainment