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:: Beautiful

One of the wash-ups from Baz Luhrmann’s blockbuster ‘Australia’ has been critics and fans calling for Australian filmmakers to take the chance and make films that are very different to the styles of films that Australia has made in the past. Hopefully those people will take the chance and go and see ‘Beautiful’, a film where director Dean O’Flaherty manages to mix the American indie film scene feel with a cinemagraphic style normally reserved for screen legends like David Lynch.

‘Beautiful’ follows the story of a teenage boy, Danny (Sebastian Gregory), who is considered a social outcast by his peers. His father, Alan (Aaron Jeffrey) has never told Danny anything about his mother and despite the kindness shown to him by his step-mother, Sherrie (Peta Wilson) he yearns for knowledge of his past. Meanwhile across the street the beautiful Suzy (Tahyna Tozzi) is being smothered by her mother (Deborah-Lee Furness) and her father (Erik Thomson) and uses Danny to dig up secrets about the neighbourhood including investigating the mysterious house that is home to Jennifer (Asher Keddie) and Max (Socratis Otto). Most of the residents seem to think that these two are responsible for the disappearance and murder of a number of local girls so Suzy and Danny take it upon themselves to discover if that is in fact true.

Dean O’Flaherty is a bright spark in the Australian film industry’s new dawn. As a producer of ‘2:37’ and ‘Storm Warning’ he has shown great potential, but it has taken him debuting as a director on ‘Beautiful’ for his true genius to be shown. O’Flaherty’s style takes all the best aspects of directors such as Sam Mendes, Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch and produces an unique visual style that captivates while luring the audience into a false sense of security before shocking them by delivering the cold hard facts. Along with Shane Abbess, O’Flaherty deserves the title of ‘Australia’s Most Promising Director’.

O’Flaherty also deserves credit for ‘Beautiful’s’ screenplay which not only creates memorable characters such as Mrs Thomson but also provides enough twists and turns to keep any mystery/thriller film-lover enthralled and ends with a finale that nobody could ever predict would happen. O’Flaherty also knows the power of the silence and he can capture just as much in a look as he can with a page full of dialogue…something that a lot more filmmakers could stand to learn from.

Acting wise, Sebastian Gregory and Socratis Otto steal the show. Gregory doesn’t put a foot wrong in this challenging lead role while Otto’s portrayal of the psychotic Max absolutely chills you to the bone. Tahyna Tozzi shows why she may be Australia’s next ‘big-thing’ while it is great to see Aaron Jeffrey be given a chance to expand his acting capabilities, and let's hope we see him in a few more edgy roles.

‘Beautiful’ is a stunning film that should silence the critics who are ringing the death bell for the Australian film industry. This is a great little indie piece that I can’t recommend highly enough.