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"Beautiful Now" tells the story of a passionate dancer, Romy, who finds herself contemplating extreme measures when she reaches a crossroads in her life. As she hangs on the razor's edge between reality and fantasy, her fractured group of friends reunite and embark on a shared journey into vibrant and intense memories of their past, helping Romy answer the question: "if your life flashed before your eyes, would you like what you see?".Written by
"A Beautiful Now" is a bold & stylish debut from writer/director Daniela Amavia that does something few films dare to do: it doesn't treat the audience like a bunch of idiots. In other words, flashbacks and fantasy scenes are not announced by harps and fuzzy edges around the screen; you're just supposed to figure it out and differentiate from real time events. The timeline doesn't necessarily move forward at a predictable pace but instead jumps around. Also, characters don't enter scenes by announcing their own names and explaining their relationship to the other characters.
Have you ever arrived at a party late and you don't know who anyone is or how they know each other? So you just sit back and hide behind your bottle of Zima while you try to piece everything together. But everyone's really good looking so you don't want to leave. Oh, also throw into the mix the fact that someone has a gun. Ready? Go.
The essential plot is set up in the first few minutes; a dancer, "Romy" (Abigail Spencer), who is suffering from severe ennui & disconnection, locks herself in her bathroom pondering the Shakespearean suicide question: tutu or not tutu. (Well maybe Shakespeare phrased it differently, but it's all the same because everyone wore tights). Romy's friends arrive to stage a sort of intervention, and what follows is a reality-bending recap of her adult life through flashbacks and conversations, both real and imagined.
Although the subject is pretty heavy, there are some humorous & witty moments that keep things alternately breezy (or should I say "brisé" ...a little more dance humor there), even though the overall look of the film is cold and colorless, perhaps reflecting the worldly disconnection that Romy feels.
Make no mistake, this is definitely an "art film", so if that phrase scares you then this movie might not be to your liking. It also feels much like a stage play with its minimalistic setting (mostly in Romy's apartment) and with dialogue carrying most of the production. If I had to list other comparable films, I'd be hard pressed to come up with any popular titles. If you're familiar with the films of Jay Anania ("Shadows & Lies", "The Letter") or foreign masters Kieslowski ("Double Life of Veronique") and Takeshi Kitano ("A Scene at the Sea"), that might give you a general expectation. I could also throw in some of Soderbergh's early work like "Sex, Lies & Videotape" or even "Solaris" minus the spaceships.
If you're in the mood for an unconventional film about dysfunctional relationships interspersed with a few poetic dance moves, then "A Beautiful Now" might be exactly waltz you're looking for. To me it's worth seeing a second time (or for you dancers, you might want to see it "five, six, se-ven, eight...!" times). OK that's my last lame dance joke; I think I've made my Pointe.
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