Review: Ma Belle, My Beauty (Sundance 2021)

Title: Ma Belle, My Beauty
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Marion Hill
Starring: Idella Johnson, Hannah Pepper-Cunningham, Lucien Guignard
Runtime: 1 hrs 33 mins

What It Is: Bertie (Johnson) is a talented singer struggling with her mental health in the midst of her husband Fred’s (Guignard) upcoming tour. To try and break up her creative rut, Fred invites their ex Lane (Pepper-Cunningham) to visit them at their lavish home in France. Lane is determined to pick Bertie’s brain as to why she would settle down without her while Bertie seems to still be hurt over how their relationship had last ended. From there, they balance the lines between newfound friends and scorned lovers.

What We Think: A film about a musician and her two partners trying to manipulate her back into a polyamorous relationship leaves a strange and bitter note in spite of its intention to appear more spontaneous and Eat, Pray, Love-esque. Perhaps the tone is going over my head but how it was presented as an array of awkward and petty exchanges between rich people with first world problems. I’m a bit choosy that way–conflicts like these interest me the least, which is an admittance on my part and a warning towards anyone else who shares this with me. There was no humor, there was very little romance, and there was little to no chemistry. The situation bordered on gaslighting, yet we have a lovely soundtrack and the enticing aesthetic of French country to try and convince otherwise, implying more boisterous and down-to-earth hallmarks than what they are.

Our Grade: D+, At times frustratingly random and others dull, practically half of this adult drama focuses on teasing and building up Lane and Bertie’s estranged relationship when you further realize how painful Bertie’s situation is. Though the technical elements come together nicely to make a pretty-looking and sounding film, the bland redundancy of the dialogue and plot progression was just a killer. Nonetheless, I’m sure there are those who will enjoy this film out there. If perhaps you’re looking for an OG film that can better frame polyamory with more humor, entertainment, and relatability, I would recommend a film like Group Marriage from 1973.

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Author: Chai Simone