Stealing Beauty Reviews
There isn't really a direct narrative in Stealing Beauty. The story in Stealing Beauty is about a young teenage girl named Lucy Harmon arriving in Tuscan countryside as part of getting over the death of her mother and in pursuit of love. While the latter is one of the major themes in the film, the former is little more than a gimmick which is barely touched upon for the film. Stealing Beauty could have been about a lot more, but it ends up a lot more about style than about substance. The intentions of Stealing Beauty seem to largely be about coming of age, but the entire film is so bereft of depth or general meaning that it ends up as a well meaning but shallow and pretentious piece. It is short on character with the only one maintaining any real meaning being protagonist Lucy Harmon, and yet even then viewers only get a half-assed rendition of what she is truly feeling. Audiences know little about her beyond that the is at an age where she is questioning love and sexuality, hoping to find someone to lose her virginity to her. But the fact is that she is also the daughter of a famous poet who commited suicide. The actual relevance that this plot element has to the story is absent which made me wonder why Bernardo Bertolucci and Susan Minot bothered to write it in at all if they couldn't be bothered to do anything with it. Stealing Beauty is not the coming of age film that it could have been or the complex story of sexuality that Bernardo Bertolucci wanted it to be, meaning that it is an ambitious but largely thoughtless film, benefitting more from the director than from the writer. There isn't much at all you can take away from Stealing Beauty aside from a more recent sense of Bernardo Bertolucci's style as a director which really is of serious benefit to the film, because without him taking on that role I would be confident in saying that it would become more of a dull and pretentious bore than it already is.
I watched Stealing Beauty on the basis of it being a Bernardo Bertolucci film, and in that regard I got what I was expecting. From a narrative perspective there was nothing to boast about, but surely enough the director did his job to ensure that it was much better than it could have been. The italian setting for Stealing Beauty is just wonderful. The scenery is so bibrant and colourful yet incredibly gentle and serene. It gives the film a wonderful sense of visual energy. The second it enters the screen, the viewer is caught by its hypnotic gaze of life. The scenery for the film is so beautiful that it gives the spirit to the feature and passes it on to the audience. The scenery is thoroughly beautiful without being tampered with, so Bernardo Bertolucci is succesfully able to emphasise the beautiful Tuscan landscape and bring life into the film. The theme of beauty is one that the film tries to explore, and the way that it is explored through its characters seems to be mirrored in the way it is explored through the landscape. While it is hardly deep, there is a lot of aesthetic beauty in the film due to the fact that Bernardo Bertolucci is able to emphasise the beauty in both the scenery and all of his cast members. Visually, Stealing Beauty is a magnificent film which keeps things watchable throughout all of the lacklustre storytelling and thin writing. It isn't enough to really make the film good, but it is enough to make the experience worthwhile, and so I certainly would not consider Stealing Beauty a terrible film. I'd just call it an underdeveloped film. Style wise, it doesn't falter much at all.
The sountrack to the film is nice because it occasionally reminds viewers of what the lives of characters are like back home with contemporary music pieces ranging from Stevie Wonder to John Lee Hooker. When the music is not lightly atmospheric, it is timely and nostalgic, creating an interesting contrast to the Tuscan setting of the film at some times and give a sense of atmosphere to it during others. Either way, the soundtrack in Stealing Beauty always finds a way to work.
And the cast in Stealing Beauty contribute a strong effort.
Liv Tyler's leading performance in Stealing Beauty is brilliant. While the role is not that deep, she fits the part perfectly ebcause of how she conveys a sense of youthful charm and innocence in the role. There are many scenes where she is simply silent, not having anything to say but rather many things to think. Although what they are prove ambigious due to the lack of depth in the film, Liv Tyler really establishes the idea that she is playing a meaningful character. In terms of establishing a sense of sympathy, Liv Tyler plays out her role with a sense of natural spirit and subtlety by reaching out to audiences to ensure that they understand her uncertainties in life. She is able to establish a lot of implications through her natural subtle charm, delivering a restrained performance of welcome proportions. Liv Tyler makes a name for herself with a firm leading effort in Stealing Beauty, and she works under the direction of Bernardo Bertolucci excellently well.
Jeremy Irons is also a welcome presence. While the film uses only a few of his best skills as an actor, the one that it does capitalises on is his sense of wisdom in line delivery. Jeremy Irons' supporting role has him talking about some interesting views on love and life for a small amount of time, and it stands out as memorable because his simple effort is one that has him delivering sophisticated dialect with natural charisma. His energy is restrained, but his charm is all there and he shares a strong chemistry with Liv Tyler.
Rachel Weisz also makes a welcome supporting presence.
So Stealing Beauty boasts a talented cast and impressively stylish directorial work from Bernado Bertolucci, but the underdeveloped story, lack of depth and inability to ask many questions or even answer what few existing ones there are render it ineffective, dull and boring.
Liv is quite beautiful as is the Italian countryside, and coming of age stories are always fun, but this movie is tastefully done.