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4.8 out of 5 stars227
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on May 22, 2004
I can't count the number of times I've read a magazine article about this movie, how many times I'd scoured the movie rental places for it in high school, how many times I'd almost bought it online... but never did get my hands on it until recently. It may be hard to find, but it is well worth the search. This is the best coming-of-age movie I've seen --I connected with it and each of the characters on more than one level-- and I was delighted to find that the usual stereotypes are no where to be found in this movie. And on top of that, no sex scenes or anything else you might not want to show your mother.
The story has been summarized in many of the other 250 or so reviews, so I won't do that here. But I will urge you to get this movie and watch it -- it will touch you and be beneficial whether you are just coming to terms with being gay, if you're out and completely fine with yourself, or if your kid or friend has just come out to you. Even if you don't know many gay people, watch this movie and see what you think. It deserves all the awards, recognition, and reputation that is has. I only wish I had seen it sooner (and that other people had seen this before I had to come out to them!).
This is a British film, so expect more rough language than you'd see if it had been made in the U.S... I'd also recommend using the Closed Caption to keep from getting a bit confused from the language differences (for instance, I thought Ste had said he was Naked when it made no sense ... ends up he had said Knackered... sleepy I guess LOL).
Whether you rent it or buy it, find some way to see this movie.
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on March 25, 2015
This film really stands the test of time. I just love the rawness of the characters. They are extremely relateable and organic! They evolve in time as the movie progresses. One of my top 3 films of all time!
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on March 1, 2004
I wish they had had this film and play when I was younger. The story of Jamie, his family, his love and his difference is very powerful. The central character Jamie is in the process of coming out, and has an infatuation that deepens into love with his nextdoor neighbor and friend Ste. Jamie's life is a bit of a shambles given his mother (a single mother) who has a flighty but sincere boyfriend. Jamie's mother only wants the best for him, which is a far cry from Ste's family, headed by a single father, which also includes an abusive brother.
The dynamics of life in the government housing unit (called council housing there) is interesting, as all people have hopes but lowered expectations about what life can bring them; this is very much a teenager angst movie, and even the adults seem to be into it.
Jamie's mother should be a member of PFLAG, being at first shocked, but then very supportive. Ste's father and brother fall into line with the typical homophobic types. The rest of the world seems blissfully unaware of the major life events taking place, which in reality makes this film very realistic.
This is not a deep film, but it isn't really superficial either. It is honest and sincere in expressing the emotions and situations of the characters without making them cartoon cut-outs or political objects. But in the end, the message is political of a sort, and that is that we all have the freedom to run our own lives, including who we love.
This is beautiful.
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on January 6, 2004
This film deserves to be seen by all families of gay teens, by all gay teens, by all who remember being gay while teens, by all other teens, by all who are or who have been in love when young, by homophobes and by most anyone else.
It is a story of young love, of being different in adolescence and of that oddly process called "Coming Out" which is terrifying and freeing process at once.
As it starts we see Jamie (Glen Berry) fleeing from after school soccer,and being labelled "Hugh Janus" (Huge Anus) - a reference to his presumed role as a homosexual, by other boys. His next door neighbor (male and the same age) Ste goes along (though with an odd look) with the harrassment. On his way home he he passes the black girl Leah (Tameka Empson) with little comment. When Jamie arrives home, his mother Sandra (Linda Henry) gives him a hard time for having skipped soccer practice.
The stage is set, the main characters introduced, and the story underway in the first sequence in which Jamie walks home from school.
The main plot concerns the developing love affair between Jamie and Ste. Jamie has realized that he is gay, but has told nobody. He is clearly taken with Ste. Ste's sexuality is unknown, but seems likely to be heterosexual and he behaves as such. Over the course of the film we find Ste, who starts by joining his peers (perhaps reluctantly) in the harrassment of Jamie, slowly and fearfully revealing that he does love Jamie and is probably himself gay.
Unlike many other films about coming out, this film has some very strong subplots - Ste is being beaten by his father and older brother. Jamie's mother is attached to Tony - he's odd, but clearly cares about her and is (strangely enough) portrayed as one of the most caring people in the movie. She is also working as a barmaid who as an opportunity for a much better position as the proprietor (??) of a pub of her own. Leah is obsessed with Mama Cass - and is clearly having serious trouble coping with her life.
The main subplots concern discordance between people and their environment - Jamie's homosexuality is a problem between him and his mother (and his school peers). Ste's family clearly (and rightfully) terrifies him - not in general, but in every moment he is around them. Sandra has troubles with Jamie whom she clearly loves deeply but also seems generally unhappy. Leah is prone to the kind of adolescent actions that are designed to attract attention (playing her music overly loud, asking to be hit over the head to change her voice and the like) - this affects both her mother and those living around her.
Tony is an odd character in all this. His place at the onset is that of Sandra's boyfriend and they seem nicely settled together. He works hard to save Leah from one of her more extreme acts. His reaction to Jamie's coming out is supportive, but only because he seems to think that its the "Right Thing".
Some of the plots are resolved - Jamie comes out to his mother - though it takes some pressure from his mother who already knows - to do so. This scene is likely to be one of the most powerful scenes in the film for anyone who had difficulty coming out to parents or family. Sandra gets the new position (though it means she and Jamie will have to move away from the housing (council housing??) where the film is set). Ste and Jamie end up in love. Sandra breaks up with Tony (and with such symbolism!).
Some are not - Ste's continuing relationship with his father and brother is left open as is his future with Jamie who will move with his mother. Leah's difficulties are completely unresolved.
Cinematically, the film is tightly filmed. Little time is wasted in extraneous shots - the film is not so much about place as about people. Indeed, in a few places, the geography of the locations is not easy to work out. For the most part shots of the characters are from reasonable distances (balancing psycological distance and identification) - indeed in retrospect its hard to think of many shots that are not in the range of 5 to 15 feet (or so) from the characters in them. This makes the movie feel like you're participating rather than observing from a distance.
The Mamas and the Papas music is featured in the soundtrack and points up Leah's obsession. The tone of their music is in deep contrast to Leah's agitation. This contrast emphasizes Leah's position as a crucial character, somehow stuck in her own permanent anomie as the others find ways to reduce theirs.
Don't think this is an intellectual film - much of it is quite emotional - dealing with the kinds of issues each of us copes with - and often seem insurmountable during adolescence. And then it ends - leaving anyone who has learned to care about any of the characters quite overwhelmed.
In the final scene, all the major characters (Jamie, Ste, Sandra and Leah) come together in a overwhelming setpiece finish. It is quiet - only the Mamas and the Papas music remains. It is a surprise, completely unrealistic, and wonderfully romantic. It will leave anyone who has been at all emotionally involved with the rest of the film with a satisfying feeling of completion and that sad/glad romantic satisfaction that few films manage.
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on September 12, 2003
Sit down strap yourself in and hold on as we are about to go on an emotional roller coaster ride to the core of human emotions. "Beautiful Thing" is all this, and more; you will laugh, and cry, get angry, and then cry some more. As I started to explain this film, which will grab you and pull you in quite possibly like no other, to my employee, I started to break down; I don't do this very often. Tears are welling up now as I type this.

The film is about an adolesent young man, Jamie who lives with his "mum" in an English housing development along with is neighbores on one side, Leah ( who adds much comic relief ) and her mother, and Ste. ( short for Steven )another adolesent boy of the same age and his older brother and father on the other side.
In the openning secequence, Jamie is in his P.E. class ( with Ste.) and the other boys ridicule him viciously, not wanting him to join them in football ( British style ); humiliated ( I've been then there) after having his gym kit thrown over the fence he retrieves it, skips class and runs home. Ste., on the other hand is physicaly beaten by his abusive bother and father and lives in fear; unable to take the abuse any longer Ste. spends the night with Jamie sleeping head to toe in the same bed. Later on Jamie steals a gay magazine shows it to Ste. and discovers a gay "pub" across town and ask's him to join him; the mother knows something is up and follows them there, when later that night she confronts Jamie on his activies of that night, crying in his bed "Some things are just to hard to say" he tells his mother. Like a trailer to a film, I don't like to give the whole story away and ruin it for you; I really suggest that you avoid reading other reviews that do. I will say there isn't any frontal nudity; and it's a great film if you are just comming out or show it to your family or school to dramitize the effects of gay bashing etc. either way, bring plenty of kleenx the ending will stick with you for a long time; for it is neither to sweet to be "sappy" and the acting is excellent to the point of being surreal; This could have been a major motion picture Hollywood style, I have never seen anything like it and the soundtrack form the "MOMMA'S & THE PAPPA'S adds a wonderful score.
We as gay people have face and experienced rejection, hatred, bigotry and even murder; but in the end you will discover that life after all is, a Beautiful Thing.
If you get just one film this year, get " BEAUTIFUL THING "
( buy one copy for your video store too).
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on August 10, 2003
There are only a handful of really, truly feel-good gay movies out there at the moment, and this gem of a film from 1996 endures as one of the best of them.
A simple story: two boys coming to terms with their sexuality in their teenage years, one more comfortable than the other but both strong and complex in their own ways. Subtle yet fulfilling sub-plots focusing on the neighborhood and families are rare in that they actually fill out the story rather than distract from it.
If I had to summarize the moral of the story, it's would be that it is about personal will to find happiness despite the seemingly larger-than-life obstacles that can and will get in your way. A truly touching film and one definitely worthy of the permanent collection.
Note, though, that though this DVD is many years later than the VHS release, it's a very bare-bones DVD - pretty much just the movie. The movie itself is worth it though - you won't regret the purchase, and will probably have to lend it out to a number of friends. :)
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on August 10, 2003
There are only a handful of really, truly feel-good gay movies out there at the moment, and this gem of a film from 1996 endures as one of the best of them.
A simple story: two boys coming to terms with their sexuality in their teenage years, one more comfortable than the other but both strong and complex in their own ways. Subtle yet fulfilling sub-plots focusing on the neighborhood and families are rare in that they actually fill out the story rather than distract from it.
If I had to summarize the moral of the story, it's would be that it is about personal will to find happiness despite the seemingly larger-than-life obstacles that can and will get in your way. A truly touching film and one definitely worthy of the permanent collection.
Note, though, that though this DVD is many years later than the VHS release, it's a very bare-bones DVD - pretty much just the movie. The movie itself is worth it though - you won't regret the purchase, and will probably have to lend it out to a number of friends. :)
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on July 4, 2003
If you have a good ear and mind for decoding British working class accents (I don't), or a high tolerance for misunderstanding every fifth or sixth phrase (I have), you'll enjoy this film about several families from an apartment complex somewhere in contemporary industrial England. Living in a row like unlikely peas in a pod are teenage youth Jamie and his single barmaid mum, Ste (Jamie's chum) and Ste's single (alcoholic and physically abusive) father and older brother, and an elderly Caribbean woman and her granddaughter Lea, a sassy high school drop-out(?) with a passion for Mama Cass records. (By the way, Mama Cass delivers the only fully intelligble lines in the entire movie.)
It is not an easy life for any of the young people--or the adults, for that matter--in this story. Lea is self-deluded and about as lost as any young girl can be. Jamie is relentlessly teased for being "bent" and "a fluff" at school, a torment he is too ashamed of to report to his mother. Neighbor Ste is brutally beaten by his father and brother for the slightest infractions. The most touching scene in the movie for me was when Ste first shows Jamie his bruises and Jamie offers to rub his back with a soothing cream, the kind sold to self-pampering housewives in The Body Shoppe. In Jamie's hands, the cream takes on the importance of a sacred unction, a balm of Gilead.
It is apparent throughout this movie that skin to skin contact-- touch--is the most primal way people communicate, establish trust, and form opinions about themselves. "You're all right," Jamie's mother assures him shortly after relentlessly pummeling him during a fit of frustration. One wonders whether such words of assurance can ever undo the messages communicated by direct physical violence. In Jamie's case, perhaps. His mother's efforts to stand by her son are consistent and sincere (bouts of frustration and parental ineptitude aside). In Ste's case, it is only through the gentle, loving contact he receives from Jamie (and Jamie's mother) that he can even begin to realize that he counts for something.
Amidst all this violence and pain is the omnipresent voice of Mama Cass blasting from Lea's hi-fi. This can be heard as the "la-di-da" voice of denial, a voice emanating from the far away world of sunshine and flowers (California) and the long-ago time of the Summer of [Innocence and] Love (1967). Or it can be heard as the hymns and creeds of a new religion, one whose chief doctrine is the power of love to conquer hate, violence, and intolerance.
The film has a few loose ends that left me puzzled, but overall I'd call this a great film. I highly recommend it.
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on June 24, 2003
The movie Beautiful Things has just been released in DVD format. This is a movie that really does not have the most compelling plot, but it does have memorable characters that give the film great appeal. The story revolves around two young men from a working class neighborhood in an English city. Jamie lives with his mother Sandra and her latest boyfriend. His relationship with his mother is somewhat tense and moody, but viewers also know that the two love each other very much. Ste, a neighbor, lives with his older brother and father. The two regularly subject Ste to physical abuse. Sandra has compassion toward Ste and takes him into her home. Ste becomes friends with the outsider Jamie, and Jamie begins to sense something in common with Ste, though neither really talks about it. Eventually Ste and Jamie become lovers. The action flows naturally, and there is some angst about sexuality, but neither seems to be tormented by it. Other colorful characters include Leah, a neighbor who dreams of being the next Mama Cass, and Tony, Sandra's love interest.
The movie has quite a few humorous moments, as well as touching and tragic moments. Love conquers all, but the viewer realizes that while the movie ends on a happy note, life may or may not be all happily ever after for the two main characters. Both will have to deal with other issues at other times, but for now all is well.
Gay audiences love the film, and parents of gay and lesbian children can probably relate to Sandra, but the film really has universal qualities that all audiences, gay and straight should be able to appreciate.
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on August 5, 2003
About two high school boys in a gritty urban housing project somewhere in London, the athletic Ste, who lives with an abusive father, and the quiet, shy Jamie, who lives with a no-nonsense barmaid mum; and there are other quirky characters, such as the crazy Caribbean gal-pal obsessed by Mama Cass Elliot, and the slacker dude with a heart of gold dating the barmaid mum. The love blossoming in the most unlikely of locations does not depend on eye-candy shots of high school hunks in swimsuits, like most "young love" movies (e.g., "Nico and Dani," "Get Real," "Come Undone"), but is driven by believable characters leading believable lives. They actually refer to themselves as gay and acknowledge the existence of a gay culture, again a rarity in movies of this type.
The only thing I didn't like was the conclusion, in which the boys' anxiety over coming out seems downright silly as the adults clamor to show their support.
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