Like its title, with those synonymous adjectives, Simon Aboud’s film strings together a story that strains to be charming while actually being immediately predictable. At the center of this British indie is a Peter Pan–collared protagonist named Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay), who the narrator immediately tells us is not a normal girl. She was raised by ducks (huh?) and “grew into the oddest of oddballs,” and the film does not stop capitalizing on her quirks there — her neurotically perfect arrangement of household objects suggests an intense case of OCD.
An aspiring children’s book writer, Bella spends her days working at the library when her dollhouse life — documented with the soft, idyllic lens of a twee music video — becomes propelled by a series of random occurrences that merely feel like placeholders for plot holes. Take, for instance, the strong gust of wind that blows a drawing of a bird out of her hand. While chasing after her artwork, Bella passes out in her backyard, later to be found by her grumpy old neighbor Alfie (Tom Wilkinson). From there, the two start an odd friendship — instigated by a turf war with Alfie’s cook, Vernon (Andrew Scott) — as he helps her garden and overcome her unexplained fear of fauna while she softens the curmudgeon in him. Meanwhile, Bella gets pushed into a saccharine fling with an inventor whose hotness is thinly veiled by a pair of glasses and a stutter. There is such a thing as too sweet, and after this film, you’ll feel a toothache coming on.
This Beautiful Fantastic
Directed by Simon Aboud
Opens March 10 Village East Cinema
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 6, 2017