- Director:Oliver Hermanus
- Cast:Sue Diepeveen, Charlie Keegan, Deon Lotz
- Release Date:August 02, 2012
- Running time:105 minutes
- Film Worth:$18.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
An unsettling and ultimately tragic portrait of obsession and repressed desire, which is striking in style and tone.
South African director Oliver Hermanus' Beauty is an intense and gripping character study of an Afrikaans-speaking middle-class family man and closet homosexual who becomes obsessed with a young acquaintance. Francois (Deon Lotz) is the quiet, stolid manager of a Bloemfontein lumber mill, and is happily married with grown kids. Everything about his suburban existence seems as comfortable and stodgy as his neatly-pressed khakis. Yet a deliberately paced first act reveals that he also leads a shady secret life marked by covert rendezvous with other gay men his age. But Francois' growing infatuation with Christian (Charlie Keegan), the college-aged son of an old friend, threatens to splinter these scrupulously constructed mental and social barriers. As Francois begins to stalk the unassuming young man, his behaviour becomes more dishonest and destructive.
Beauty is boldly stylish and unconventional, steering well clear of melodrama; Hermanus' assured direction is as tightly controlled as his protagonist's world. He creates great suspense while commenting on the construction of identity and the violence of human relationships. Several memorable POV shots of Christian are taken from across a crowded room or through a telephoto lens. The dark palette's muted earth tones, dimly lit interiors, and soft focus suggest that Francois is hiding from the glare of the South African sun. It's also an eerily quiet film. Much is left unsaid, or communicated through casual conversation. The terrific sound design contrasts the inanity of social gatherings and internal silence. At the centre of it all is a fine, slow-burning performance by Lotz.
With such a conflicted and disturbed lead character, Hermanus might be accused of negative stereotyping. But he walks the dark side honestly - it's clear in the end that the real tragedy is the prejudice and repression that loom over Francois' unfortunate choices. Beauty is a disquieting and ultimately very sad portrait of desire gone awry.