Mehdi Avaz’s A Beautiful Life is a musical drama that follows the story of a talented singer. We meet Elliott (played by Christopher), a young fisherman who lives a fairly mundane life. He works every single day for a meager wage, probably because he was not introduced to any other way to make a living. We essentially meet a working-class protagonist who does not complain about his work but isn’t destined to do it for the rest of his life.
The reason for a shift in Elliot’s life becomes evident quite early in the film. He has a heavenly voice and can sing in a way that many only aspire to. It is supposedly his hidden talent, which gets noticed by an established music manager. Suzanne (played by Christine Albeck Børge) discovers his soothing voice at a party. She notices how Elliot can manage to touch every guest’s heart. Through that, she realizes the potential he has if he is brought in front of a bigger audience. As a result, she offers him a way out of his uninteresting life.
Elliot latches onto this opportunity so that he can earn more than what he is used to. He is told to spend time at Suzanne’s place, for which he’ll get paid on a weekly basis. His boss thinks it is a better use of his skills and motivates him to pursue it. Only after spending some time Elliot realizes that his gig involves much more than just casual singing. He will be required to perform and record more songs for a fanbase that Suzanne’s late husband had.
Through an underdog narrative structure, A Beautiful Life explores Elliot’s journey and how he tackles love, ambition, and his inner demons. He meets Lilly (played by Inga Ibsdotter Lilleaas), who is Suzanne’s daughter and a talented music composer. She has her own share of emotional struggles. Suzanne expects Lilly to get out of her rut by helping this budding playback singer. While hesitant at first, she gets slowly immersed in exploring his path with him.
Lilly and Elliot’s romance goes through a conventional arc where their lack of attraction develops into a deep infatuation. On the other hand, Elliot’s music career also goes through a fairly predictable series of ups and downs. He isn’t used to fame and attention, and neither are the people from his past. They try to make sense of the sudden change in his way of living and become targets of the crab mentality.
Suzanne and some others are motivated by the business aspects of Elliot’s life. They consider Elliot as a lucrative opportunity than a vulnerable soul wanting to express his deepest feelings. While battling those industry struggles, Elliot also has to face the truth about himself – who is he singing for? Who are his lyrics dedicated to?
The pain and tragedy of Elliot’s life are nothing new to a seasoned viewer of artist-driven works. The story is a reiteration of A Star is Born‘s plotline, which has been done in 1954 and most recently in 2018. Since I have not seen George Cukor’s film, I can’t speak about whether it rises above the conventionality of its plot.
However, Bradley Cooper’s film works because of his brilliant chemistry with Lady Gaga, whose aching performance becomes the backbone of the film. Another reason why it resonated so deeply is its soulful tracks. The singers pour their hearts out and transcend it to become an emotionally potent drama.
A Beautiful Life works in that regard to a certain degree. Christopher’s performance works in multiple instances to not just seem like a rudimentary sob story narrative. His chemistry with Inga Ibsdotter Lilleaas gorgeously translates on-screen as well.
The songs, however, aren’t always as great and soulful to do justice to Christopher’s extraordinary singing voice. While they attempt to reflect on Elliot’s struggle to find a person to dedicate to, they fall flat because of its unappealing melodies. While not all of them are poor, none of them are particularly memorable. Bradley & Lady Gaga’s Shallow still makes me weep as badly as it once did. A Beautiful Life, unfortunately, fails at reaching that bar.
The reason, I believe, may also have to do with the film being a Netflix project. There are certain elements added to make it palatable to a wider, global audience which results in feeling like phony afterthoughts. So, even though A Beautiful Life is soulful, it is highly forgettable.
Also, Read – Hard Feelings (2023) Netflix Review
External link of A Beautiful Life (2023): Rotten Tomatoes
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance
Original Language: Danish
Director: Mehdi Avaz
Producer: Julie Rix Bomholt, Anna Malmkjær Willumsen
Writer: Stefan Jaworski
Release Date (Streaming):
Production Co: Den Vestdanske Filmpulje, SF Studios Production AB, Rocket Road Pictures
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital