Beautiful

  • Year:2009
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Dean O'Flaherty
  • Cast:Sebastian Gregory, Aaron Jeffrey, Asher Keddie, Tahyna Tozzi
  • Release Date:March 05, 2009
  • Distributor:Jump Street Films
  • Running time:103 minutes
  • Film Worth:$14.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

“…a truly transportive cinema experience.”

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Three teenage girls have gone missing, a voice tells us. The mysterious black Ford which is cruising around may have something to do with the disappearances. So might that creepy house at number 46. Within minutes, Beautiful has hooked you with a series of curious questions. It then goes on to envelop you in its sinister suburban world.

We're in Sunshine Hills - a generic, middle class Australian suburb where fear and paranoia thrive below a cliched, pristine facade. Protagonist Danny (Sebastian Gregory) is an insular, camera-carrying, fourteen-year-old who has a crush on his seventeen-year-old neighbour, Suzy (a worldly Tahyna Tozzi). Suzy manipulates Danny's obsession with her and sends him on a detective mission to get the lowdown on number 46 - and its frightened female resident (Asher Keddie). Of course, he finds more than he bargained for.

While the art of prodding suburbia's dark underbelly has now virtually become a genre in itself, this atmospheric Australian drama/mystery/thriller is a stand-out in an already impressive field. First-time writer/director Dean O'Flaherty - who has a background in film distribution and production - plays mutually enjoyable mind games with his audience. That this was financed by The South Australian Film Corporation offers a clue as to where it's set - but that's about the only clue. It could be any Australian suburb. Likewise, Suzy's references to pop group INXS hint at an eighties timeframe...but then again, perhaps not.

Sterling support from Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita), Aaron Jeffery (The Strip, McLeod's Daughters) and Deborra-lee Furness (Jindabyne), plus an ambience-building score from Paul Mac, all contribute to making this a truly transportive cinema experience. Beautifully photographed, cleverly written, and performed with precision, the only thing more intriguing than Beautiful's plot is what its gifted writer/director will do next.

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