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Beautiful Thing

A movie directed by Hettie Macdonald

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Beautiful Thing

  • Dec 4, 2008
Pros: ...

Cons: ...

The Bottom Line:
"And just one thing...
If you're my queen...
Then it's a beautiful thing..."
~Sister Hazel

This was a surprisingly well done love story, in fact, it was a Beautiful Thing to behold.  It is centered in London one hot and steamy summer, in a rather small and obscure apartment building.  The actors involved held heavy British accents, using a good deal of Brit slang, so if you are unaccustomed to the language or the slang, you could be in a bind.  Through my years working with exchange students from all over the world, I have always found the British the hardest to understand.  Strange, since their first language is the same as ours.  However, they often speak quickly and softly, just as they did in this movie.

Our main players are Jamie, fairly unpopular because he is more effeminate; Ste, popular and athletic but leading an abusive home life at the hands of his father and brother; Sandra, Jamie's mother; and Leah, the local trollop with a penchant for drugs, partying, being Jamie's best friend, and Mama Cass.  Don't ask. 

Of course everyone assumes Jamie is gay, something he does little to hide.  Ste, on the other hand, pumps out his chest and declares for all to hear that he is a man's man.  As it turns out, he is ... Jamie's.   Not that this is a bad thing.  In fact, it is beautiful.

Woven through the story are smaller stories mainly dealing with Sandra and her desire to get out of the rat race and own her own pub.  She is also dealing with a new relationship with a rather hippy type.  Leah, offered as a bit of comic relief, is really quite necessary for the story.  Her flagrant ways and uncontrolled party life give you another side of view, realizing that the relationship between Jamie and Ste is more peaceful and powerful in its representation.  She is a bit fun in the movie though, if somewhat pitiful at times.  We won't even discuss her Mama Cass shrine.

It is Sandra's thoughtfulness that brings Jamie and Ste together and her acceptance that makes their love work.  Her interactions with Jamie often have a humorous tone to them as Jamie is quite intelligent and often ‘talks down' to her but she holds her own with him and puts him in his place.

Glen Berry [Jamie] and Scott Neal [Ste] give a very heartfelt performance for such young actors.   Their relationship together seems entirely natural and gives credence to the movie.  You often forget they are even acting.   I'm not speaking about their love relationship entirely, but their general interaction between each other.  Jamie moves through life not caring what the world thinks while Ste harbors deep emotions due mainly to his treatment at home. 

Beautiful Thing was directed by Hettie Macdonald from the works of Jonathan Harvey.  Harvey has a small part in the movie, very small.  It was nominated for 7 awards, winning four.  Naturally it carries an R rating; sexuality, language, and drugs.

It seems other countries are far more open and tolerant of gay life than we are in the US.  Of course there are those that shun, no matter where you live, but for the most part they seem very receptive.  No huge stigmas or red letters on foreheads, they are simply accepted as any other couple.  I find this completely refreshing and wonder why we still snicker behind our hands and point fingers and, yes, even resort to violence.  It is a pity ... no, a damn shame.

This is a wonderful movie.  Filmed well, very touching.  Both Glenn Berry & Scott Neal should be quite proud of their work in this film.


This is my submission into the Lean-n-Mean VII hosted by sleeper54


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More Beautiful Thing reviews
review by . January 02, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
" BEAUTIFUL THING"    A Beautiful Movie    Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride    " Beautiful Thing" (Sony Classical) is a beautiful movie. It is one of those great British dramas that is positive throughout despite the sad and grim environment in which it was filmed. It is true-to-life and a wonderful social commentary on the English working class. An interesting study of self-discovery and teen love, " Beautiful Thing" ranks high on many lists …
review by . January 30, 2005
BEAUTIFUL THING may be almost ten years old but the simplicity and honesty of the approach of a gay coming-out film is still hard to match. Director Hettie MacDonald has gathered a group of actors so fresh and real that the story seems more like eavesdropping than a movie.    Jamie (Glen Barrie) lives with his mum Sandra (Linda Henry), a blowsy, tacky, loud but heart of gold waitress, in a housing project. Jamie plays soccer and does all the right things - except he is a closeted …
review by . August 10, 2003
There are only a handful of really, truly feel-good gay movies out there at the moment, and this gem of a film from 1996 endures as one of the best of them.A simple story: two boys coming to terms with their sexuality in their teenage years, one more comfortable than the other but both strong and complex in their own ways. Subtle yet fulfilling sub-plots focusing on the neighborhood and families are rare in that they actually fill out the story rather than distract from it.If I had to summarize …
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Susi Dawson ()
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This absolute winner, based on a stage play by Jonathan Harvey and adapted by him, is a kind of enchanted, urban slice-of-life tale about a gay teen, Jamie (Glen Berry), who is in love with the boy next door, Ste (Scott Neal). Hampering Jamie's progress on the romantic front is his fear that his mother (Linda Henry) will find out, as well as concern over complicating Ste's existing problems.Beautiful Thingis a relationship movie, to be sure, but that description doesn't really describe the buoyant tone of this British television production. Democratic in its inclusive regard for each character (whether camera-pretty or not), the film--well-directed by Hettie Macdonald--is full of surprises. Chief among them is the terrific personality of Jamie's mum, a strong and independent woman who truly worries over and adores her son. But this is a movie involved in a kind of happy dialogue with itself: thetunesof Mama Cass, for instance, play a part in both the story and overall ambience, while a strategic placement of the Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" during an act of love is fun and exciting.--Tom Keogh
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