Beauty (Skoonheid) (2011)
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Critic Reviews for Beauty (Skoonheid)
...Beauty is my least favourite type of film. An 'arthouse' film with a repulsive protagonist, Beauty is slow and, eventually, vile.
Director Oliver Hermanus values quiet, naturalistic scenes of domestic life to build considerable emotional tensions in this finely nuanced film.
Hermanus's Cannes-feted feature serves as a bold statement on the stereotypical Afrikaans male, now struggling to remain relevant in a post-apartheid South Africa.
Beauty is a confronting work that succeeds as a study of a false life lived badly and as a reflection upon a society grasping at traditional views to its own detriment.
This is Death in Venice African-style, though lacking the reticence and resonance of Mann's novella.
Few more truthful-seeming dramas about sexual repression have appeared in recent years than this one from Oliver Hermanus.
Audience Reviews for Beauty (Skoonheid)
Beauty (aka Skoonheid) is a beguiling, disturbing masterpiece made with utmost skill and acted with sincerity. It concerns Francois - a man leading a double life; his workaholic, married parental life, and his compartmentalised, separate life as a man who is attracted to other men. The opening sequence, a one-take, bravura shot at a wedding party that focuses gradually through the crowd until it fixes on that of a young man (which is revealed to be the point of view of Francois), fantastically gives you all the pre-knowledge you need. We learn that the young man is Christian - Francois' nephew by marriage, and the literal object of his suppressed affection. The film details Francois' struggle to deny his impulses and how he ghettoises his life to try and get by, and how this ultimately fails him. For reasons that would spoil the plot, Beauty is definitely a disturbing film but our sympathy is always with Francois, even when he is making questionable and downright shocking decisions. Very much a political film that indirectly deals with South Africa's sometimes appallingly homophobic culture, Beauty takes its time and somehow concurrently does *so much* within its reasonably short running time. The camerawork and photography is superb, with obscured shots speaking volumes about character and enhancing silences (there's a spectacular sequence at a beach that is dark, tense and engrossing), the performances from Deon Lotz and Charlie Keegan (surely one to watch) are breathtaking. Refreshingly, we aren't given full reasons nor see full consequences of actions - for example we don't hear both sides of phone conversations, or hear what is not within Francois' earshot, and much of the concluding 15 minutes are left for the audience to pick apart if they so wish. The ending shot, following Francois' POV as he leaves a downward-spiralling road, speaks volumes about all the things left unsaid. Despite the depressing and downbeat content, Beauty is massively important and, appropriately, brilliant cinema.
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