Directed by: #MichaelPNoens
Written by: Michael P. Noens
Beautiful Brooke is one of those romantic films that don't worry too much about the actual falling in love part. Free from the many tropes of the genre these types of films focus more on the people who fall in love. More specifically; why they do it; how they do it; and whether or not they deserve it.
Opening with Brooke (Annie Rix) being dumped we then follow her as she goes bar hopping and eventually realising she needs to revisit all her ex-boyfriends to understand why love doesn't work for her.
In its set up Beautiful Brooke has a lot in common with High Fidelity. Both films open with a dumping and over the course of the films have their characters explore their past, neither showing them in a good light, so by the end they succeed by gaining the audience forgiveness and respect rather than the love of their lives.
Straight away Beautiful Brooke has a challenge in winning over the audience to its lead from the ground up when so many other films in this genre try and make the audience like the character from the first shot. Annie Rix gives a really solid performance: in her hands Brooke is a temperamental, funny and sympathetic character. The script and the direction, however, gets confused about the desired tone and it loses the depth that a story like this needs.
Written and Directed by Michael P. Noens, who has a cast that really works well for him, the film falters between realism for the sad bits and leftfield humour for the not-so-sad bits. Some of Brooke's ex-boyfriends are a little weird, this is fine, but after Brooke appears so serious about her task her actual encounters are directed with a cartoonishness that belong to a very different film. In fact, nearly all the male characters are seen as some kind of caricature or existing at the extreme end of an emotional spectrum. Not only does this weaken Brooke's mission it also butchers the overarching narrative because this feels more like a series of bits rather than a journey.
The script itself doesn't seem to have the confidence to relate the subtleties that are supposed to be coming from the direction.
Every character speaks with an exaggerated bravado using only idioms and quips and the entire atmosphere starts to feel off-kilter. There is no depth to these characters save for non-verbal moments from the actors but it's not enough to make us engage with them instead we just watch while the movie plays.
There is a good intention behind this film and it follows a structure that allows for new ideas to be explored, it's a shame that the most it achieves are bringing these ideas up and letting them hang in the air. In its concluding moments it does take a direction that is not often seen and, despite the comparisons to High Fidelity, it does try to be its own film. Unfortunately, it gets confused about how to tell its story and it also doesn't tell it very well; Brooke's visits start to strangely feel like the exposition scenes in blockbusters moving from scene to scene gathering a little information here and there and building up to a finale. By the conclusion we're happy that Brooke is happy, but none the wiser to who she is or what makes her happy.
Annie Rix, Caty Gordon, and the supporting cast carry the film forward but when their job is done the film has not left us with much else.