Beautiful Movie Review

Subscribe To:
Few things simultaneously sicken and seduce the feminist spirit in quite as thorough a way as an American beauty pageant. Now an inextricable fixture on our cultural landscape, the pageant defines, glorifies, and objectifies Woman as a prescription for all time. An evening spent watching the Miss America proceedings on TV is like a psychosexual time warp, dragging us back to a kinder, simpler time when the female of the species need not worry itself over difficult issues like voting or wearing shoes. So it was not without a sense of irony that I walked down the cinema for a screening Sally Field's Beautiful.

Irony is the central force of Field's representative pageantry, and in the tradition of Drop Dead Gorgeous, it is no disappointment. But this is also a human story, about women in search of identity and belonging.

Mona (Minnie Driver) is a dubious beauty queen, having spent her entire life contesting--against all reason and likelihood--for the crown of Miss American Miss. Though not graced with especially striking looks from the outset, and born into a household that makes Hee Haw look glamorous, Mona's years of determination and artificiality are finally paying off. She has become Miss Illinois. Now, if she can keep her false persona straight, she stands a chance of winning the crown. And if it weren't for the untimely suicide of her best friend's convalescent patient and the disqualifying existence of her 7-year-old daughter (played by Hallie Kate Eisenberg, that annoying little girl from the Pepsi commercials), victory might be simple.

Fortunately for moviegoers, life is not so simple. But equally unfortunately, much of this tale's delivery is bogged down by an incongruous sense of vision.

At the story's outset, it is compelling and funny. Young Mona is precocious and endearing as she struggles to grow up and prove her self worth in the shadow of her alcoholic mother. Her drive to win beauty pageants is a believable compulsion, though fraught with ridiculous overtones. But, by the time Driver steps in to play the role, Mona has become little more than a caricature. She is absurd and unloving, one-dimensional in her desire to win pageants and incapable of basic human emotion. This lack of humanity makes the character fundamentally boring to watch, in spite of Driver's obvious talent.

Eisenberg, however, is--though I so hate to admit it--quite good in her role as the young Vanessa (except for the argument scenes, in which her shrill screaming was more deafening than interesting). Once we've made it through the long, irritating period of watching how far Mona's personality has degenerated, Eisenberg's performance as the story's conscience-bearer is a much-needed refreshment. Too quickly, though, does this spiral into an uncontrollable finale of cheesy feminist messages.

Sally Field's direction is, for the most part, above par. But this film is disappointingly short on substance. In the end, mothers and daughters may bond over many of the movie's funnier, heartwarming scenes, but most moviegoers will do well to wait for the DVD.

Mmmmm... hot apple pie.

Subscribe To:


Beautiful Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 2000


More Minnie Driver

Minnie Driver Confirmed For 'Peter Pan Live'

Minnie Driver has announced that she’s signed up for ‘Peter Pan Live’. The 44 year old actress will be the narrator of the piece and...

Beyond The Lights Trailer

Datari TurnerNoni Jean has always been an immensely talented singer and performer, winning local talent competitions at a very young age with the encouragement of...

Minnie Driver Quits Twitter Due To Trolls Targeting Body Figure

For 44 year-old Minnie Driver looks great, but according to Twitter trolls this is not the case.The British actress has decided to leave the social...

NBC's "About A Boy" Isn't Your Average Silly Sitcom, Say Stars

NBC’s About a Boy is yet to get its official verdict from critics and viewers, but so far, the outlook is good for the new...


A Week in News: Tributes For Lee Thompson Young, Samantha Shannon's Bright Future and One Direction Assert Their Dominance

The Only Way Is Up: As if it ever needed confirming that One Direction are the biggest pop group in the world, 80,000 fans turned...

Minnie Driver Sings 'Human' With Her Son At The Yamashiro Farmers Market Benefit Concert

'The Riches' star Minnie Driver is seen holding the microphone for her 4-year-old son Henry as he - with the booming vocals of a child...

I Give It a Year Movie Review

Not so much a rom-com as an anti-romance comedy, this brightly amusing British film makes us laugh fairly consistently, although the story itself is pretty...

I Give It A Year Trailer

Josh and Nat thought they had the most perfect relationship and made no hesitation in getting married despite their family and friends doubting their longevity....