There is something beautiful about the rags-to-riches narratives that immediately strikes a chord. They make us hopeful; they make us dream about a slim possibility, and for a few minutes, we forget about life’s uncertainty. The “feel good’ factor is what sells tickets to such films. They are inspirational because they represent the dreams of thousands of artists struggling to make it to the big stage. While we expect an extraordinary ending, it is the journey that makes us root for the character. But when the journey is shown through rose-tinted glasses, the realistic tone is lost. We are introduced to a world where no problem is big enough to be solved, the goal is to always end on a happy note, and fate is the deciding factor of the journey. A Beautiful Life uses the same formula. Yes, there are problems giving it a realistic touch, but they are solved with a finger snap, and we have the “feel good” Netflix Original.
There is nothing wrong with a positive ending; what matters is how we arrive at it. In A Beautiful Life, we arrive at it using the usual tropes. While thinking about rags-to-riches stories, I was reminded of a dozen films, but I think Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born is the perfect example for comparison. The film also dealt with the journey of a singer who was discovered by a seasoned musician at a drag bar. But there is so much more to the plot than just that. The emotions were raw, and the characters were layered. It is not just the plot that matters; rather, it is the narrative that is crucial. Mehdi Avaz’s A Beautiful Life lacks the flow that was necessary for the journey to unwind. A few boxes were checked with the characters’ past trauma, but it felt quite superficial.
A Beautiful Life is the journey of a fisherman who becomes a musical sensation. Elliott led a simple life. Most of his days were spent at the dock, where he worked, though the payment often left him unsatisfied. When his best friend, Oliver, offered to pay him for a gig, he agreed to it. While Oliver was a dedicated singer, he lacked talent. When Oliver noticed people leaving as soon as he started performing, he froze. Elliott stepped up to help his friend, and his voice mesmerized the audience. Renowned musician Vince Taylor’s widow, Suzanne Taylor, took note of Elliott and offered him money to stay out of trouble and spend time with her. He did not accept the offer immediately, but he gradually came around. Suzanne knew that Elliott was talented enough to become a star; he simply needed some polishing. She wanted her daughter, Lilly, to produce his music, but Lilly was not as impressed by Elliott as her mother was. Elliott eventually proved Lilly wrong by writing a song that he resonated with. A few hurdles came along the way that made Elliott question his talent and his ambition. In the end, he had to decide whether he wanted to make it big or go back to being the fisherman he used to be.
A Beautiful Life brings forth the dilemma of becoming a star. While success and money are enticing, to become a star, a complete change of lifestyle is necessary. Elliott never truly pursued a musical career; he did not even dream of becoming a music star, and he was overwhelmed by the fear of his life taking a turn for the worse. He could either choose the comfortable life he was used to or take a plunge into the unknown for the love of music. It is this aspect that works in favor of the film and acts as somewhat of a differentiating factor. Elliott’s and Lilly’s evolving dynamics were interesting. Particularly, the scene where Lilly stays at Elliott’s cabin for the first time was visually pleasing. I would not go as far as to say that I was emotionally invested in their relationship, but it was interesting to watch two individuals with traumatic pasts navigate their individual shortcomings to form a bond.
There are certain scenes in A Beautiful Life that are shot beautifully; I particularly enjoyed the way the indoor spaces were lit (especially the cabin). However, I am not a fan of the warm tint that is used throughout the film. Christopher as Elliott adds to the charm of A Beautiful Life. The Danish singer is a delight to watch on-screen. Not only did he impress with his acting skills, but the songs he wrote and sang for the film were catchy and emotional. However, the background score was quite unimpressive. Inga Ibsdotter Lilleaas as Lilly was convincing, and she got the emotions right. As the daughter of a music legend, Lilly often doubted herself and so, when Elliott arrived in her life, she was forced to confront her fears, and the challenge helped her evolve.
It is the predictability of A Beautiful Life that makes it unmemorable and, at best, an average watch. You already know what you are going for from the very beginning of the film. It is a light-hearted film that does not require too much of your attention. The film has drama, romance, and music to keep the audience entertained. The film did not strike an emotional chord, though, of course, that is purely my personal opinion. There are way too many options when it comes to the genre, and you cannot help but compare. And the tendency is to always go back to films that touched our hearts or emotionally wrecked us. But you can watch A Beautiful Life on a lazy weekend if you are in the mood for a “feel good” film.