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Beauty (Skoonheid) (2011)

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Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 238

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Movie Info

A man leading a double life finds his obsessions leading him in a dark, troubling direction in this drama from South African filmmaker Oliver Hermanus. Francois (Deon Lotz) is a South African businessman in his mid-forties who on the surface seems to be an ordinary, happily married, and respectable citizen. But beneath the surface Francois seethes with resentment; as an Afrikaner, he distrusts and dislikes the blacks who have risen to political power since the end of apartheid, and while he's

Unrated,

Drama

Oliver Hermanus, Didier Costet

Feb 27, 2013

Unknown

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All Critics (16) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (3)

...Beauty is my least favourite type of film. An 'arthouse' film with a repulsive protagonist, Beauty is slow and, eventually, vile.

September 27, 2012 Full Review Source: The Aristocrat
The Aristocrat

Director Oliver Hermanus values quiet, naturalistic scenes of domestic life to build considerable emotional tensions in this finely nuanced film.

August 5, 2012 Full Review Source: 3AW

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.

July 30, 2012 Full Review Source: The Sun Herald
The Sun Herald

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.

June 8, 2012 Full Review Source: Screen-Space
Screen-Space

This is Death in Venice African-style, though lacking the reticence and resonance of Mann's novella.

April 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Few more truthful-seeming dramas about sexual repression have appeared in recent years than this one from Oliver Hermanus.

April 20, 2012 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Deon Lotz gives a career-making performance in this petty-bourgeois tragedy which boldly shows both the mundanity and brutality that can lurk behind the closed doors of the South African middle classes.

April 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Lotz gives the story a tragic dimension.

April 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

An atmospheric downer about a repressed homosexual Afrikaner committing a staggeringly brutal sexual assault.

April 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

This queered state of a nation is tense, quietly sad and yes, beautiful.

April 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a haunting, shocking and emotionally powerful drama with a terrific central performance from Deon Lotz.

April 18, 2012 Full Review Source: ViewLondon
ViewLondon

Despite that title, there's an ugly power to this study of obsession and anger.

April 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Lotz tortured expression carries the film, silently falling apart in an artful series of lingering pans and excruciating static shots.

April 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A confronting tale of an angry, repressed white male in modern South Africa

November 2, 2011 Full Review Source: sbs.com.au
sbs.com.au

A striking yet erratic piece of work...

September 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

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.
November 3, 2011
danieljparsons

Super Reviewer

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