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Beautiful Thing


Beautiful Thing

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Beautiful Thing is the sort of rare movie that benefits greatly from a slow pace and an almost claustrophobic atmosphere. An intelligently crafted and acted story of two teenage boys—one the son of a overworked but caring mother, the other the victim of an abusive father and brother—who fall in love with each other, it needs its audience to feel the stifling, working-class atmosphere in which its story is set. Director Hettie Macdonald allows her actors time to develop in a manner that never seems contrived, and the story, adapted from a play by Jonathan Harvey, smartly knows when to undercut pathos with humor. The two young leads nicely capture the danger and, more importantly, the sweetness of a romance that goes against the surrounding social expectations. There's every reason for the protagonists to be kept apart, and no reason other than love for them to be together. (And because this isn't an American film, they're actually allowed to kiss on-screen.) If the final scene looks a bit like a glossy fantasy, it's a forgivable indulgence for a movie that portrays plenty of grit.