This Beautiful Fantastic

This Beautiful Fantastic

(2016)

Life blooms in enchanting ways.

A young aspiring author (Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay) and a cantankerous, rich old widower (two-time Oscar-nominee Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton) begin an unlikely friendship in this British romantic drama.... More

When Bella (Findlay) is forced by her landlord to deal with her neglected garden or face eviction, she meets her nemesis, match and mentor in Alfie Stephenson (Wilkinson), the grouchy, loveless old man who lives next door and is an amazing horticulturalist.Hide

Flicks Review

Writer-director Simon Aboud delivers a gentle comedy about an unlikely friendship that’s neither particularly beautiful, nor that fantastic, but not without considerable charm. Bella (Jessica Brown Findlay), is introduced as, “the oddest of oddballs.” Orphaned as a baby, saved by ducks, now grown into an obsessively ordered librarian, and aspiring children's author, Bella faces eviction, unless she restores her London home’s neglected garden. Terrified by the unpredictability of nature, Bella is forced from her orderly, indoor world, into the wild outdoors, where she meets her neighbour - grouchy, wealthy widower, and inspired gardener, Alfie (Tom Wilkinson).... More

With its quirky characters, romantic subplot, fantasy elements and wry humour, it has the feel of a low-budget  British Amélie. In fact, Bella’s character, wardrobe and moments of composer Anne Nikitin’s score are so reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film, it often comes closer to heist than homage, only without the scintillating cinematography, dynamic direction, sparkling wit and imaginative flourishes of its French inspiration.

Melodramatic and predictable, the performances from the leads, and supporting cast, (Andrew Scott as hayfever-suffering Irish chef, Vernon; Jeremy Irvine as a batty mechanical-bird inventor; Anna Chancellor as Bella’s strict library-rule enforcing boss), ensure it bobs along pleasantly enough, as Bella is encouraged by Alfie to branch out into the natural world of her garden’s “beautifully ordered chaos.”

Slow but sweet, clichéd but charming, if whimsy’s your thing you’ll dig this offbeat, comedic, family-friendly, flight of fancy about friendship, finding yourself and blooming flower metaphors.Hide


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The Press Reviews

  • Finlay reminds one of a young Winona Ryder as she winsomely juggles learning to garden with letting her guard down, while the always watchable Andrew Scott once again proves to be a scene-stealer with his kindly cook. Full Review

  • Aboud ... works some obvious parallels as he tells the story of a timid young woman, her cranky old neighbour and the garden that separates them, but enjoyable performances keep the tale from becoming too heavy-handed. Full Review

  • There are no puppies, kittens or baby bunnies in This Beautiful Fantastic. That said, however, any restraint before the altar of adorableness is abandoned in writer-director Simon Aboud's sophomore feature. Full Review

  • None of what transpires is earth-shattering, but it's the way it happens, with the simplicity and sense of wonder of an old-fashioned picture book, that makes her story, however wispy, delightful. Full Review

  • Depending on how you take your twee - sparingly or, as is the case in this preciously concocted tale of English misfits, slathered like marmalade over a crumpet - it will either delight or quickly cloy. Full Review

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