First and foremost, ‘Beautiful Beings’ (Original title: Berdreymi) is a gorgeous film. The tenderly narrated film about four teens feels intimate due to how the camera captures them, besides its mesmerizing performances. While their actions may not always be pleasant, the journey through their realizations is incredibly well-told. Much like Lukas Dhont’s Close (another moving coming-of-age film), it benefits from its intensely observational approach that takes us through a relatively simple journey in a captivating manner.

While watching the unfolding of chapters over a brief period of time, you sense the power of cinema as a medium. The way this film utilizes them manages to move you through a tapestry of emotions. It begins with an introduction to Balli (Áskell Einar Pálmason), a shy, reserved 14-year-old misfit who gets relentlessly bullied by his classmates. He eventually suffers from the violent means they choose to hurt him. The television broadcast shows it on the news to convey how teenage violence is growing at an alarming rate in the country. That is when the film opens up an introspection about this cause while subtly revealing the different facets.

Addi (Birgir Dagur Bjarkason), who initially mocks Balli for being a nerd, soon empathizes with him and makes him a part of his group of friends with Konni and Siggi. Those two are initially not open to letting him join their gang due to his reputation. They find it hard to allow someone who is meek and gets teased often for his appearance and his personality. Perhaps it’s an inbuilt fear that his entry will make them seem weaker and prone to vulnerability.

However, with Addi’s consistent allyship, Balli soon starts gaining confidence. He opens up to them about his absent parents and how that leaves him responsible for caring for himself in an adult-less house. He finds immense joy in the acceptance he slowly receives from these three teens, who try to open him up to different sides of his personality. Meanwhile, we see the impact of irresponsible parenting on all of them, who seek violence for not having learned any other tools to express themselves. They scream and fight as a way to let go of their pain and anger, which could have benefited from a better, more sensible outlet of expression.

Beautiful Beings (2022) Review-HOF

Throughout the film, we see the harmful impacts of enforcing gender-normative expectations. These teenagers see emotion as a tool of defeatism while always trying to hold back from being empathetic toward their embarrassments and emotional struggles. The film gently showcases their anguish without condemning their innocent mistakes while fighting their own demons. Through Addi, we see an emotional struggle through his visions that open up the surreal world of his fears. He lives with his clairvoyant mother while trying to make heads and tails of his strangely symbolic, vivid dreams. We see him come out of his shell and choose compassion over the irrevocable impact of violence.

While following their respective journeys, the film also focuses on the mutual sense of freedom they experience while building their strong bond. Through the familiar beats of bonding drama, it emerges as a stronger film due to its well-rounded characters and a mature, sensible understanding of the importance of their learning. The character arcs are well-defined to take us through varied themes of abuse, molestation, emotional struggle, and absent parents while immersing us in their lives. Despite the familiarity of its story, this coming-of-age film benefits from sensitive and realistic storytelling to deconstruct hyper-masculinity.

And despite switching between their individual stories, the film never loses its emotional potency, where the credit also goes to the brilliant acting performances by its younger set of actors. Birgir Dagur Bjarkason gives one of the finest performances from the year to build a journey from ignorance to emotional maturity while portraying Addi’s silent agony. He becomes the crux of the film that bridges the gap between a bullied misfit and his neglected friends.

Written and directed by Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson, the film shows brackets of mundane moments to present their unabashed joy where they do not need to hide behind a pretense. His approach feels like a warm breeze or a gentle caress over these afflicted teens. It is complemented by the film’s cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen, who helps let the actors discover these tender moments without rushing.

Read more: 125 Most Anticipated Films of 2023

Beautiful Beings (2022) Trailer:

Beautiful Beings (2022) Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Beautiful Beings (2022) Cast: Birgir Dagur Bjarkason, Áskell Einar Pálmason, Viktor Benóný Benediktsson
Where to watch Beautiful Beings

Similar Posts