Beauty (Skoonheid) (2011)

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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 … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Oliver Hermanus, Didier Costet
On DVD: Feb 27, 2013
Runtime:
Unknown - Official Site

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Cast


as Francois

as Christian
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Critic Reviews for Beauty (Skoonheid)

All Critics (16)

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

Full Review… | September 27, 2012
The Aristocrat

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

Full Review… | August 5, 2012

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.

Full Review… | July 30, 2012
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.

Full Review… | June 8, 2012
Screen-Space

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

Full Review… | April 22, 2012
Observer [UK]

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

Full Review… | April 20, 2012
This is London

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.

danieljparsons
Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer

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