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“Beautiful Beings,” Film From Director Arnar Guðmundsson

“Beautiful Beings,” Film From Director Arnar Guðmundsson

“Beautiful Beings,” the sophomore movie from creator/director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson, has been chosen to signify Iceland on the Oscars this yr. Given its themes of teenage angst and topical exploration of the rising violence amongst the youth of Iceland, it’s easy to see why this coming-of-age drama was chosen over the far-superior, however harder interval piece “Godland” from director Hlynur Pálmason. In his bleak film, Guðmundsson combines the kitchen sink drama of rising up in a cycle of violence and/or poverty and the magical realism of teenage fever targets, with blended outcomes.

We first meet outcast Balli (Áskell Einar Pálmason) as tight, fluid camerawork follows him as he sulks his means by a school hallway proper right into a classroom, a teacher remaining merely out of physique. This technique locations the viewers squarely in Balli’s miserable footwear, recalling the mannequin of Andrea Arnold, although Guðmundsson and cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen forgo Arnold’s signature Academy ratio for a wider physique, dulling its affect. Nonetheless, this stylistic flourish is abandoned early inside the film after bullies observe Balli residence after college eventually and beat him so severely that he makes the nightly info in regards to the rise in Iceland’s violent youth.

Proper right here the angle shifts to Addi (Birgir Dagur Bjarkason), whose voiceover description of a troubling dream about his associates opened the film, watching the info on the television collectively together with his new age-y mother Guðrún (Anita Briem). Her heartfelt concern for the child is met with apathy from her son, who calls the bullied boy a nerd. However, the next day Addi and his buddies Konni (Viktor Benóný Benediktsson) and Siggi (Snorri Rafn Frímannsson) uncover Balli, face now with a defending face masks obscuring his wounds, sitting alone in a space getting drunk on moonshine whereas contemplating ending his life. After bumming a cigarette, insulting him, and provoking him to binge drink, this band of misfits welcomes him into their gang.

Each boy comes from a broken residence, unhappy inside the distinctive strategies described by Tolstoy. And though each boy’s backstory is knowledgeable by means of Addi’s voiceover, the film primarily focuses on the burgeoning relationship between Balli and Addi. One factor in regards to the neglected boy brings out the protector in Addi, whose largest downside is that his divorced, nevertheless well-off dad and mother take into account in UFOs. Pálmason and Bjarkason, the youthful actors participating in Balli and Addi, craft palpable push-pull chemistry, every boys unsure straightforward strategies to categorical the feelings they’ve for each other in any means previous violence and insults.

Upon discovering that Balli’s mother is basically absent and his stepdad in jail, the boys make his dilapidated residence their headquarters. Grøvlen’s digicam stays a fly on the wall as a result of the boys get pleasure from teenage debauchery, smoking cigarettes, making drugs from house goods, roughhousing, and watching porn. Although there’s a hierarchy all through the group and violence, it affords each boy a means of neighborhood and security from the larger violence that awaits them every at residence and rival gangs.

For lots of the film, Guðmundsson attracts on the prolonged customized of offended youthful man motion pictures, with out together with lots by way of originality or notion that hasn’t already been said. The director would not shrink again from explicitly displaying the regularly violence these boys get pleasure from, whether or not or not it is property destruction, bodily violence (at one stage the boys experiment in asphyxiating each other to get extreme), or sexual assault. The dramatic irony of this latter sequence in distinction to an earlier scene the place the boys watch violent, animated porn, is particularly heavy-handed.

Throughout the latter half of “Beautiful Beings,” Addi’s targets develop into waking nightmares and premonitions, together with a supernatural layer to his story. Sadly, there isn’t lots originality proper right here each, though it’s good to see what appears to be an homage to Nietzchka Keene’s 1990 fantasy film “The Juniper Tree” starring a youthful Björk. Guðmundsson struggles in order so as to add cohesion to clashing tones, lastly abandoning every magical and kitchen-sink realism for the film’s cloying remaining sequence.

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