Lovely is the word that comes to mind. This Beautiful Fantastic is a delicate fairytale for grown-ups, sort of like an adult version of The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett. Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay) is an odd creature – librarian by day, an aspiring children’s writer by night. Clean freak – always. When her grumpy neighbour Alfie (Tom Wilkinson) snitches on her disastrous gardening skills, Bella faces eviction unless she manages to fix her garden in a month. During that time, however, Bella and Alfie become unexpected friends. He teacher her about the magic of gardening, and she reminds him about love and life.
Andrew Scott plays, quite humorously, Vernon – and Alfie’s cook who went over to work for Bella. His character is refreshing and disregards gender norms; he’s often seen wearing an apron, he is brilliant at cooking, and an excellent single father. But he dazzles us more than once with his knowledge of the law, and best of all, the filmmakers didn’t force a romantic relationship upon Bella and Vernon. The comic relationship between Vernon and Alfie treats us with a few amusing one-liners; but eventually the two opposites come together to have Bella’s back when she gets her heart broken by a quirky inventor Billy (Jeremy Irvine). But don’t you worry – the fairytale has a happy ending.
This Beautiful Fantastic has the aesthetics of magic realism, but is not quite it. The only narrative element of that is Luna – Billy’s mechanical bird that is powered by light, even moonlight. The style of the film stays quite true to magic realism throughout, for example the shots establishing Bella’s obsessive need for tidiness, the colour schemes. It reminds its audience that there is magic in our everyday lives – the flowers blooming, the laughs shared with friends and family. There is magic in little things, in the ordinary. This Beautiful Fantastic is a feel-good film – happy yet realistic. It’ll leave you feeling fulfilled and pleasant. It has an understated charm.
Dir: Simon Aboud
Scr: Simon Aboud
Cast: Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Tom Wilkinson, Jeremy Irvine
Prd: Andrea Iervolino, Monika Bacardi, Christine Alderson
DOP: Mike Eley
Music: Anne Nikitin
Country: UK, USA
Run Time: 100 min
Available To Watch On Digital Download From 5th March