are a lot like animals. Their only purpose is to be eaten. They’re just not as
tasty. Yet, for some reason, grouchy old Alfie Stephenson enjoys looking at
them in his backyard garden. He is so fauna-crazed, he rats out his oddball
next door neighbor to their landlord for the poor state of her untended back plot.
She has a black-death thumb, but the crusty old curmudgeon will eventually help
her tame her unruly garden in Simon Aboud’s This
Beautiful Fantastic (trailer
which opens today in New York.
up in an orphanage most likely caused Bella Brown’s poor social skills. The OCD
and germaphobia developed on their own. In Brown’s case, they are so
pronounced, the make everyday living a challenge. Of course, the last thing she
wants to do is spend time out in dirty, smelly nature. Unfortunately, she will have
to knuckle-down or be evicted. At least, she has some help. Stephenson’s former
cook Vernon will feed her well and he will use his dishes to extort some gardening
advice from the old grouch.
course, Stephpenson will eventually change his opinion of the awkward Ms.
Brown. She in turn will take a liking to a similarly eccentric patron at the
library, where her employment hangs by a thread. Billy the inventor also
provides a seed of inspiration for the children’s book she always meant to
some outlets, TBF has been billed as
a fantasy, because Brown spins a yarn about a steampunky Da Vinci-esque
mechanical bird, but that rather overstates matters. Nevertheless, it is quite
remarkable how well Aboud (Paul McCartney’s son-in-law) minimizes the
quirkiness in favor of dry British wit. Naturally, the crafty Tom Wilkinson is
his key ally in this respect. As Stephenson, he perfectly lands each and every
acerbic line and maintains his dignity during the scenes of melodramatic rapprochement.
as Ms. Brown, Jessica Brown Findlay (the Downton
Abbey sister who dies in childbirth) is much more closely akin to Ally
Sheedy in Breakfast Club than Audrey
Tautou in Amélie. On the other hand,
Andrew Scott piles on plenty of ah shucks charm as Vernon, channeling the likable
Irish everyman of films like The Bachelor Weekend rather than his villainous Jim Moriarty persona.
Yes, it is predictable, but TBF manages to be plucky without ant saccharine sweetness. Again,
Wilkinson’s contributions towards this end cannot be overstated. His arch
voiceovers are some of the best you will hear in a film all year. Recommended
for anyone who wants some polite British comedy with their tea and biscuits, This Beautiful Fantastic opens today
(3/10) in New York, at the Village East.
Labels: Andrew Scott, British Cinema, Tom Wilkinson