Beauty Parent Guide
The movie fails because the protagonist is so hollow and passive that it's impossible to care about her.
Parent Movie Review
The life of a young performer is not an easy one, and Beauty (Gracie Marie Bradley) knows that better than most. Her mother (Niecy Nash), once an aspiring singer herself, has been training her for years to make the most of her vocal ability. She hasn’t been gentle about it. Beauty’s father (Giancarlo Esposito) isn’t any easier to get along with, and runs his family like a business, with the expectation that when Beauty gets a recording contract, he’ll see a big piece of the pie. Beauty, despite her desires for fame, success, and fortune, struggles to match her own ambitions with those of her controlling family, and is far more concerned with what her girlfriend, Jasmine (Aleyse Shannon) thinks of her situation. But life is more than the people around us…right?
I’ll start off with the content issues, which mostly have to do with substance use and profanity. Between the dozen-odd f-bombs and the frequent drinking, smoking, and marijuana use, this doesn’t exactly rate as a favorite for family movie night. (Not that this slow, drama-focused story would be a big hit with younger viewers in the first place.) Adults might have other issues.
There are a lot of interesting ideas and themes dancing around the periphery of the movie, but the filmmakers seem reluctant to actually engage with them in a meaningful way. Themes about Beauty’s parents’ extreme level of emotional abuse and control, her struggles with her manager, her relationship with her girlfriend, and broader ideas about race and exploitation in the music industry are talked about or seen, but never explored. It’s a shame, because a film willing to do more than dip its toes in the water could be hugely compelling. I’d love to see how the industry’s focus on white audiences personally affects Beauty, or how her strained relationship with her parents influences her choices, or the effect her same-sex relationship would have on her career. Instead, the story marches on to an uncertain conclusion, leaving more questions than answers in its wake.
I think the film struggles so much because Beauty is a such a hollow character – she makes very few decisions for herself, and even the decisions others make for her don’t seem to have significant consequences. Beauty’s just along for the ride, another audience stand-in. She doesn’t grow or change, just coasting through the plot, waiting for the plot to happen to her. Any character development that should be subtext is outright text, which makes it feel like the few moments that do affect Beauty more profoundly are more told than shown. It’s quite frustrating as a viewer to wait for the main character to just do something the whole film, only to find the credits rolling.Directed by Andrew Dosonmu. Starring Grace Marie Bradley, Niecy Nash, Aleyse Shannon, Giancarlo Esposito. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release June 29, 2022. Updated June 30, 2022
Watch the trailer for Beauty
Rating & Content Info
Why is Beauty rated R? Beauty is rated R by the MPAA for language and drug use
Violence: Two characters are seen fighting violently in the street. Parents slap their adult children. A woman is beaten off-camera and shown later with some bruising.
Sexual Content: Couples are briefly seen kissing.
Profanity: There are 14 uses of sexual expletives, 21 scatological profanities, and occasional uses of mild curses and terms of deity. Characters occasionally refer to one another by a racial slur.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen smoking both tobacco and marijuana, and drinking alcohol.
Page last updated June 30, 2022
Beauty Parents' Guide
How does the recording industry pressure artists to make their lives more performative? What are some consequences of this pressure? What kind of economic motivations do these pressures rely on? How did the industry historically treat artists of color differently than white ones? Has that changed since the mid-80s when this film is set?