Review: This Beautiful Fantastic dir. Simon Aboud
From a foreigner’s perspective, there’s a unique quality to certain Britflicks that take their charm to the next level. In Simon Aboud’s This Beautiful Fantastic, that charm is milked for all its worth and appeals utterly to audience members hungry for the quintessentially twee indie film missing in their life.
Throughout its runtime, This Beautiful Fantastic appears to continually try to outdo itself with its weirdness, beginning with protagonist Bella’s origins. Left abandoned in Hyde Park and raised by ducks, it’s a saccharine background story that somehow feels bearable and daresay, likeable in the hands of Jessica Findlay Brown’s portrayal. We find out that the agoraphobic and reclusive Bella works in a library under the most stereotypical librarian ever (think ‘shh’shes with fingers on her lips at the drop of a pin), and fall in love with her ongoing mating game with inventor Billy (Jeremy Irvine) using her photographic memory of the architecture section.
This Beautiful Fantastic’s real plot however, takes place after a raging storm hits Bella’s house, an estate in the heart of London left to her care. The garden left in a complete mess, Bella must learn to garden before she is evicted by her landlord. Her teacher is her old, cantankerous neighbor, Alfie Stephenson (Tom Wilkinson), whose head chef (Andrew Scott) she liberates from his supposedly cruel employment. From here, the film dives full on into twee territory, as illustrated how to books, a tearjerker past, visually arresting animatronic creatures and plenty of gorgeous greenery comes into the picture as Bella learns the art of gardening and the importance of looking beyond first appearances.
This Beautiful Fantastic takes audiences into a dreamy wonderland with each scene, with plenty of lush, beautiful imagery that makes it live up to its name, helped immensely by its evocative soundtrack. Although it lacks focus, jumping from one fantastic sideplot to another, it’s a film that has so much visual appeal going for it that one could forgive it for teetering on the edge of believability. This Beautiful Fantastic is also armed with an incredibly talented cast, with some of the strongest actors working in the UK today, and each of them lend their talents to the screen to infuse the entire film with a charm that alone makes this film worth watching as they interact with each other.
If you can overlook the cliches in its formulaic plot, This Beautiful Fantastic delivers a perfectly likeable hour and a half of a weird and wonderful story. Filled with love, hope and a gorgeous garden, this is an ideal film for anyone who wishes to lose themselves for an afternoon and restore their faith in the implicit goodness of humanity.
This Beautiful Fantastic will be available to watch on Digital Download from 5th March and can be bought here