Plot: “A young woman who dreams of being a children’s author makes an unlikely friendship with a cantankerous, rich old widower.” (imdb.com)
Director: Simon Aboud
Stars: Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Tom Wilkinson, Jeremy Irvine
Genre: Comedy, Drama
This Beautiful Fantastic is a lovely film about blossoming friendships and flowery gardens. It might remind you a bit of Amélie. The film’s protagonist is a quirky young woman named Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay) with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a fear for nature and dreams of being a children’s book author. She is forced by her landlord to take care of her neglected garden otherwise she’ll face eviction. Her nemesis is her neighbour Alfie Stephenson (Tom Wilkinson), a grympy, rich, old man who loves his garden and has an extensive knowledge of flowers.
Vernon (Andrew Scott) is a sweet Irish man who used to work as a cook for her rude neighbour, but quited his job and came to work for her instead. With the encouragement of Vernon, Bella has exactly one month to transform the neglected garden behind her house into something beautiful. Eventually, the brusque old man begins to teach her things about flowers and gardens but also about love and life. By the end, Bella has learned quite a few things about friendships, nature and, yes, even romance with a peculiar young inventor named Billy (Jeremy Irvine).
Jessica Brown Findlay is so good, she approaches the character with such delicacy. I saw her as Ophelia in Hamlet back in February and she blew my mind, such a talented actress. Andrew Scott is exceptional as always, didn’t expect anything less. His character Vernon was adorable and he had quite a few hilarious lines. Tom Wilkinson is a great actor, as we all know, and once again he did not disappoint. In smaller roles, Anna Chancellor as the strict librarian and Jeremy Irvine as the eccentric inventor are delightful.
One of the things I liked most is the character development; Alfie begins as a grumpy old man but grows to be kind and fond of Bella, almost seeing her as a daughter. Bella is also introduced as a lonely, quiet girl with OCD but by the end of the film she has learned how to overcome some of her fears and how to appreciate life. I have to admit, I kind of wanted Bella to end up with Vernon instead of Billy, he was just too lovable and their chemistry was amazing. But I digress.
This Beautiful Fantastic is such a gentle, sensitive, and sweet film. It has its funny moments but it can also be quite sad. It’s nothing extraordinary but still, it was lovely to watch. I did feel like quite a lot of things were missing, they definitely could have explored the characters, and maybe the story, a bit more. However, the film itself is not disappointing; it leaves you with a warm feeling and that’s what made me like it so much. The cast was wonderful, the story was touching, the cinematography was beautiful, and it has that subtle, dark British humour that I love.