Cinema is definitely a form of art that can come in many forms. No film is the same; the same story passed through different filmmaking teams will result in two different teams. However, it is also true that while not two movies are the same, lately, it seems writers, directors, and even actors are putting a lot of effort into creating movies that feel effortless. Meaning movies that don’t try to be anything good but that just exist and are happy with just that. A Beautiful Life, the new Netflix film of the week, is just like that, a movie happy to occupy space on some server.
A Beautiful Life is a film directed by Mehdi Avaz and stars Christopher, Inga Ibsdotter Lilleaas, Christine Alberg Borge, and Ardalan Esmali. The film tells the story of Elliot, a fisherman who is actually a very good songwriter and singer. He is discovered, and producers invest time and money to transform him into a star. In the process, Elliot will find love and have to fight his inner demons, which might sabotage him on the road to success. The film serves as a vehicle for Christopher, who in real life is a very popular Danish singer-songwriter.
As a movie that is mainly a vehicle for its protagonist, A Beautiful Life works as just one. It is a very predictable and tiresome story. As the movie progresses, it is very easy to predict what will happen, and sadly, in the end, many of the things that happen carry no weight for the character or for the story. Telling a powerful story is not the aim of the movie. The movie is designed to make Christopher even more famous. It might work because, as we know, Netflix is a global brand, and this movie will definitely make Christopher better known around the world.
At one point, one of the characters says that Elliot and his music cannot be put inside a template. This statement ends up being quite funny because while true for Elliot inside the movie’s universe, it is completely false for Christopher, the real-life singer. Let’s make it clear. This movie will have a different result depending on who is watching it. For those who are already fans of Christopher or like his type of music, then it will be fine, even great. However, the music in the movie didn’t work for me precisely because it sounded made from a template.
There are many songs in the movie, and that is the point of the movie, to see Elliott go from an unknown talent to a global powerhouse. However, for me, the movie seemed generic, so when the characters tell him how much of a genius Elliott is, it sounded hollow.
The template format can be applied not only to the songs in the movie but also to the plot and the script. We are dealing with a movie that has chosen to take a template and then just use it with little to no change. A Beautiful Life is a movie we have seen countless times before and done way better. Go watch Yesterday if you want the same story with a bit of a twist.
Outside of the generic story, the movie does little to attract the eye. The cinematography is bland and follows the cold and uninteresting look that has become basically a meme when dealing with this type of production. Scandinavian production is often seen as all looking the same, which is untrue, but A Beautiful Life doesn’t help the stereotype. We already know that Netflix has this very patented look where everything is over-lit, and everything looks like a department store display. A Beautiful Life doesn’t reach those levels, but it is certainly a movie that lacks cinematic language.
The acting is fine. Christopher is certainly the worst of the bunch. He might have the potential to be a great actor, but at least in this, he is trying too hard to be the tough guy with a sensitive heart. The trope has been done to death, and his performance doesn’t really add anything of value. It actually becomes quite frustrating to see the character reverting back and back again to his old habits all throughout the movie and then getting out of them by the power of love. This is a writing issue, but sadly, Christopher couldn’t elevate the character with his performance.
The rest of the cast does a fine job, but they are equally trapped under a script that cares little about dealing with real emotion. All the developments are done in just one or two scenes, and you can feel that there was really no intention of taking these characters on any discovery journey. They all deal with the same family issues we have seen in other movies a thousand times, and on top of that, there are a couple of characters with basically no function in the story. This is another issue with screenplays nowadays, adding characters based on their personalities and not their function in the story.
A Beautiful Life is only over 90 minutes long but feels much longer. It is in part because it is threading so much old water that it feels like we shouldn’t be watching this movie. It is a shame that Christopher couldn’t find a story that could really push him to take a challenge as an actor. Instead, he does this semi-biographical take on his life, and everything feels phony as hell.
In the end, the movie is made for a specific audience; those who already enjoy Christopher’s music and possibly new fans worldwide. It feels more like an advertisement than an actual movie, and in many ways, it is just a long commercial to buy into the Christopher hype. However, it fails completely as a movie with any sort of cinematic value. Netflix is not known right now for the quality of its content, but this definitely falls into the lowest category of its library.