Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Actor: Ricky Mabe, Jordan Monaghan, Conor Leslie
Director: Tim Bartell
Country: United States
Duration: 95 min
First, the Recap:
There’s a deepening conundrum that exists, a fantastical paradox, a quandary which simply begs to be resolved in the minds, hearts, and very lives of millions of people in this great big world–relationships. Sometimes it truly seems that no greater logic-stumping situation can occur than when it comes to fully figuring out the elements it takes to bring two people together and keep them together. Struggling L.A.-based storyboard artist David (Ricky Mabe) is still in the process of getting his own life together. Attempting to realize a dream to become a successful screenplay writer, but constantly running into barriers that seem to prevent any real forward progress, it’s a simple, check to check existence that needs no complications.
This is when he very unexpectedly, and rather unceremoniously, meets Kat (Jordan Monaghan) a carefree, wild-natured, and homeless young woman whom he ends up bringing home to his already small apartment existence. Somehow believing they can have a practical relationship right from the start, it becomes more than evident quickly that the two could not be more apart from each other in life views, demeanors, responsibilities, and priorities. As David’s OCD-driven tendencies create conflict with Kat’s street-wise attitudes and incessant drinking, the pair explode into a dysfunctional pairing that threatens both of their sanities. Yet, in the midst of such overt strife, can there actually be the possibility of gaining genuine care and connection with and for each other?
Next, my Mind:
Let’s just say there is no doubt dysfunction rules the day in writer/director/co-producerTim Bartell’s indie film effort, very much delving full tilt and with absolute defiance into the world of two people whose lives are so blatantly different and filled with varying levels of inner turmoil, past hurts, and desperation for a tangible bond, that it can get a tad overwhelming at times. A total kaleidoscope of everything from irreverent, profanity-laced dark humor and drama to some genuine sentiment, the narrative careens along with brisk pacing, but could truly leave some viewers feeling bludgeoned and/or emotionally drained. It leaves you wondering, and perhaps even saddened, that such relationships actually exist, and even the finale leaves one trying to determine if there the characters will find an actual sense of happiness.
This reviewer must give some serious kudos to the two main leads in this film, as it would honestly take some earnest, resolute preparation to dive so completely into these two people they enact. Mabe’s David, for all his quirks, is at heart a quintessential “nice guy” who finds himself in way over his head and tolerance level, yet tries with every fiber of his being to weather the storm, which Mabe portrays very well. Similarly, Monaghan’s Kat is a surging emotional hurricane, fueled in many negative ways by her drinking problem, which brings out such burning rage and frustration. Yet, in other moments of sincere vulnerability, she displays such raw pain and internal sorrow as well as glimpses of happiness, all of which Monaghan simply exudes in waves for this role.
In summary, “Dirty Beautiful” isn’t really this reviewer’s preference in overall content, especially with all the overt language and relative focus on adverse, cynical themes. But, that said, it is still a solidly acted indie effort, and most certainly will resonate with a modern audience. If anything, it does make one think about how contemporary relationships are and, even if this scenario might be a little extreme, it still leaves you, perhaps, aspiring to do more to make connections even more genuine and founded on solid ground while finding room for the inevitable need to present forgiveness in whatever form it may be required.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!