Berdreymi (Beautiful Beings)
Disaffected youth being led by their egos, their insecurities and sometimes their genitals: on paper, it doesn’t feel like Berdreymi is going to tick any boxes for innovation. Its premise seems to lean heavily on familiar tropes, but the magic is in the execution. Director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson has delivered a film with a distinctive freshness, and a grimly compelling plausibility – even as the narrative almost inescapably thrashes its way to some pretty dark places.
Without overthinking his actions, Addi (Birgir Dagur Bjarkason) takes pity on the school punching bag, Balli (Áskell Einar Pálmason), who has been bullied with a weirdly impersonal brutality, causing the boy to have to wear a superhero-esque mask as his face heals. As he joins Addi’s circle of friends, Balli finally has a sense of belonging that has eluded him – with an absent mother, a dead father, and an abusive, incarcerated stepfather. Booze, hallucinogens and outbursts of violence flow freely, and a bond is formed. It doesn’t take a psychic (as Addi’s mother thinks she is) to work out that this bond will soon be challenged.
There’s a real camaraderie amongst the young cast, with the strength of the writing combining with the actors’ characterisations to ensure that the roles all seem like fully realised people. They’re quite endearing, despite the fact that they’re often vicious little bastards who do awful things, playfully flinging homophobic and ableist slurs at each other. Guðmundsson has rather smartly set his film in what appears to be the early 2000s, meaning that his characters have to rely on SMS and dial-up internet, so that social media (mercifully) doesn’t rear its head to intrude on the tactful unspooling of the story.
Berdreymi doesn’t try to take on more themes than its narrative can support, allowing it to be intelligent and confident, and more than a bit unsettling in places.
Berdreymi (Beautiful Beings) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.