By William Wolf

BEAUTIFUL  Send This Review to a Friend

The first problem in "Beautiful," directed by Sally Field and showcased at the Toronto International Film Festival, is trying to see Minnie Driver as a beauty pageant contestant. The idea is a joke in itself despite Driver's decent acting in the part. She just doesn't look the runway type. But even if you get by that difficulty, the screenplay by Jon Bernstein is a cornball travesty.

Driver plays Mona, who has been obsessed with becoming Miss American Miss, with little else in her empty head. She's so determined to become a beauty queen that she'll even hide the fact that she's a mother and talks her friend Ruby (Joey Lauren Adams) to pretend to be the mom of Vanessa (Hallie Kate Eisenberg), a precocious child who feels something is amiss but doesn't yet know the truth. I say "yet" because you know the film is headed for a soap opera ending.

There are a few amusing satirical moments, but the up-beat, tearjerker climax is so contrived as to render the story ridiculous. This isn't even a film by which to fairly judge Field's directorial ability, except with respect to her choice of material. A Destination Films release.


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