The film does take unearned shortcuts that defy emotional logic. In the real world, redemption is hard and takes a very long time. Relapse is frequent and common, and discovering one fact about yourself (even a really fundamental one) is not going to suddenly enable you to feel empathy and form a healthy attachment to another person. There is some exploration of Brooke’s unhappy childhood and the mention of an absentee father, but that thread is never followed up. It’s also strictly film logic that would suggest stalking old flames works better than professional therapy to figure out what’s wrong with you emotionally. This is the kind of story that makes you wish you could circle back to the characters in five years and see how they’re doing.
It’s remarkable how much our social environment has changed in just the few short years since this film was released. We would not, perhaps, in 2016, have wondered how a male screenwriter could possibly tell this story about a woman’s mind and her emotional journey of self-discovery, given the unusual circumstances of the plot, but now we can’t help but question that. We are now finding ourselves less able to shrug off tone-deaf inconsistencies, possibly because of the conversations we’ve been having as a culture about gender, sexual orientation, misogyny, feminism, and sexism. We’ve been learning better ways to think and talk about them. In this context, the through-line of the film falls into questionable territory. Is this a genuine story about a realistic journey for a woman, or is it male wish-fulfillment? Watch and decide for yourself.
“Annie Rix is lovely…”
Perhaps that’s diving too deeply into a film about becoming a young adult, failing, learning, and falling in love. Despite being conceptually derivative, Beautiful Brooke works as a romantic comedy. Perhaps Noens was able to root out something we all have in common. Everybody is at least a little bit sh*tty, and we’ve all left people behind in ways we’re not proud of. Brooke just takes it the extra mile, acting out the worst impulses you can imagine, and up until Tony leaves her, she has no regrets.
Production-wise, the film delivers wonderfully. Annie Rix is lovely as Brooke, and Caty Gordon’s Helen is the friend you always want by your side. The music is moving and compelling, and the men that float through Brooke’s life are portrayed solidly as incarnations of the different phases of her journey. The experience of watching Beautiful Brooke is satisfying and delivers what Noens set out to make: a heartfelt, deeply emotional story about finding love, after all, for yourself and others.
"…makes you wish you could circle back to the characters in five years..."