Altered Innocence: Our Review of ‘Beautiful Beings’ on OVID

Posted in What's Streaming? by - February 29, 2024
Altered Innocence: Our Review of ‘Beautiful Beings’ on OVID

Balli’s (Áskell Einar Pálmason) house becomes the de facto hangout spot that his new friends are going to use. He becomes a sort of a project for a member of what started out as a three boy crew. That teen who sees a diamond in him is Addi (Birgir Dagur Bjarkason), and his two friends, tough guy Konni (Viktor Benóný Benediktsson) and nerdy Siggi (Snorri Rafn Frímannsson) help out. What happens after isn’t really Balli’s fault, as Addi, a second generation ‘psychic’, starts seeing visions. These start getting worse as Balli’s stepfather returns, these visions making Addi suspicious towards the stepfather. His suspicions turn out to be correct, making them decide to do something to protect Balli and his family. But what’s the point of doing all of that if what they do tears the gang apart?

Addi is the central character in Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson’s film, one of the few Icelandic exports that exposes the country’s antisocial problem. Films like this, regardless of origin, tend to be miserablist, but there is, thank God, some levity here. There’s a scene where Balli’s sister comes back and Addi tells her that they’ve been experimenting with drug use. The scene in Beautiful Beings has Addi telling her that the drugs come from different painkillers, Addi doing so while trying to be tough. The sister, not having any of it, advises him to take care when using such drugs. She does, however, have this look on her face that she’s not taking him seriously or she’s seen worse. And as we find out, she has, as the film shows her role in inadvertently making things worse for the boys.

Critics billed Beautiful Beings as the film about bullying but it goes without saying that it’s more than that, and it takes enough left turns for viewers to hope that these boys turn out relatively fine. That they’ll unlearn the toxic masculinity around them and break whatever cycles of antisocial behaviour that’s trapping them. And in a way, it does when the film gets around to what Balli’s stepfather does to his family. When Balli tells Addi and Siggi what’s happening, he tells them not to tell Konni. All of them know how to keep each other in check, although the film’s biggest tension lies on what’s inevitable. The film beautifully provides characters with backstories and it incorporates fantastical elements to its mostly gritty, neorealist atmosphere.

Beautiful Beings is an OVID streaming exclusive.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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