Suicidal depression has rarely been embodied as beautifully as it is by actress Abigail Spencer in A Beautiful Now. Playing Romy, a dancer past her prime, in Daniela Amavia’s feature debut, the statuesque actress makes the act of locking yourself in your bathroom with a loaded gun and a bottle of champagne seem glamorous.
Unfortunately, the other aspects of the earnest indie drama are more likely to make audiences feel suicidal. This fractured tale revolving around Romy’s friends rehashing their lives and relationships while trying to dissuade her from taking her own life is too tedious and pretentious to make us care about its central character’s existential crisis.
Suicide is painfully boring in this earnest indie drama.
That Romy is a dancer provides the filmmaker the opportunity to deliver some much needed visual flourishes to the talky proceedings, in the form of dance sequences both realistic and fantastical. In one of the film’s many flashbacks, Romy is even shown doing pirouettes in her bathroom while involved in an intimate conversation.
Speaking of intimate conversations, there are far too many of them in this stage play masquerading as a film. For all the characters’ verbosity and penchant for philosophical musings, nothing they say is either profound or interesting, as illustrated by this exchange: “Why do you hate me so much?” “Because you love me … there must be something wrong with you.”
Spencer (Rectify, the upcoming NBC series Timeless) delivers a strong performance but is hamstrung by her character’s moroseness, which seems less indicative of clinical depression than self-involvement. Cheyenne Jackson, as Romy’s sharp-tongued best friend, and Collette Wolfe, as her BFF, deliver solid supporting turns, but their efforts are undercut by the time-fractured narrative that keeps us confused as to how the characters relate to each other (although they all seem to have slept with each other at some time or another) and when events are happening … or, considering the many fantasy sequences, whether they’re happening at all.
Distributor: Monterey Media
Production: Unified Pictures
Cast: Abigail Spencer, Cheyenne Jackson, Sonja Kinski, Patrick Heusinger, Collette Wolfe, Elena Satine, Hana Hayes
Director-screenwriter: Daniela Amavia
Producers: Daniela Amavia, Keith Kjarval, Lynn Kressel
Executive producers: Derek Anderson, Nathan Kelly, Victor Kubicek, Kurt Rauer, Alireza Ravanshad, Julia Valet, Valdis Oskarsdottir
Director of photography: Patrick Scola
Production designer: Cindy Chao, Michele Yu
Editors: Adam H. Mack, Valdis Oskarsdottir
Costume designer: Slavna Martinovic
Composer: Johnny Jewel
Casting: Lynn Kressel
Rated R, 99 minutes