Sundance 2021 review: ‘Ma Belle, My Beauty’ confronts the complexities of life and love.

Ma Belle, My Beauty

Newlywed musicians Bertie and Fred are adjusting to their new life in the beautiful countryside of France. It’s an easy transition for Fred, the son of French and Spanish parents, but New Orleans native Bertie grapples with a nagging depression that is affecting her singing. Lane—the quirky ex who disappeared from their three-way relationship years ago—suddenly shows up for a surprise visit, bringing new energy and baggage of her own.

An already messy relationship between three individuals is challenged when they’re thrown back together after two years. As they one-up each other, passive-aggressively, boundaries are pushed to their breaking points. The film has a nonchalant pace that will either be up your alley or not. The settings will undoubtedly dazzle the Sundance audience. Bertie is played by Idella Johnson. Her acting warms up as the plot rolls along. She hits her stride once we hear her sing. Not warm up, but really SANG!.  Her performance around the fire is explosive. Broadway-quality, touch your soul kind of stuff. Lucien Guignard as Fred is as complicated as this script needs him to be. He is charming and perhaps even underutilized. There was so much more to his story that I wanted to hear about. Hannah Pepper as Lane is the most relatable character for the masses. We don’t see a lot of polyamory portrayed in film. It’s often left as a punchline in romcoms. Here, Pepper opens her veins on screen. The idea of not sharing a lover but running when things get hard is very grounded. She walks a line that keeps the story honest and grounded in a reality we can sink our teeth into. Wine, adventure, confession, disappointment, you get it all in a visceral way. Ma Belle, My Beauty a fantastic feature debut for writer/director Marion Hill. She and the entire cast and crew should be proud.

To purchase tickets to Ma Belle, My Beauty’s second screening click here.

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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