The best scenes in this movie show that Guðmundsson has a talent for make-believe, drug trips and fantasy scenarios, and if there were more such set pieces in Beautiful Beings, then it might have been something more distinctive rather than the latest in a very long line of films about young people left on their own.
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If in terms of narrative there’s not much new here, there is a freshness and an inhabited vibrancy that makes this painful coming of age story feel exactly its own.
Beautiful Beings is shot with real style, with very good performances, but the cliched and consequence-free violence is a flaw.
Beautiful Beings, titled “Berdreymi” in Icelandic, is superb at capturing the universal problem of idle, unsupervised boys making bad choices, creating “Lord of the Flies” pecking orders and lashing out in violence because nobody’s taught them otherwise.
The impressive second feature from Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson confronts the feral cruelty and violence of children on the cusp of adulthood, but finds also a tenderness amid the sharp edges and posturing.