With the blood of Romeo and Juliet running through its veins and a sprinkling of drama, new fantasy narrative A Beautiful Curse debuted at this year’s Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival. There’s a mysterious island where the inhabitants have completely fallen asleep. Our lead, Samuel (Mark Strepan), is a photographer who’s been sent there to document the bizarre sleeping spell. Samuel falls in love with Stella (Olivia Vinall), not knowing if she will ever awaken to reciprocate his complicated feelings. The plot is threadbare, but this never feels like a film concerned with narrative or complexity in the first place. Instead, it relies heavily on mood and atmosphere.
A Beautiful Curse lives up to its name—the inherent beauty all around us is amplified by this curse and pared down to its most exposed. Haunting visuals serve to strengthen the premise; these include abandoned dogs, a bus full of sleeping people, a girl holding a goldfish in a bag, a mostly empty supermarket, and a man asleep dangling from a tree who was trying to rescue a cat. By dwelling in the simplicity of it all, writer/director Martin Garde Abildgaard finds meaning and connection via Samuel and Stella. Both Strepan and Vinall elicit chemistry through little dialogue or true interaction.
A hopefulness in perspective, one that shows off how meaningful the smallest moments can be, feels even more relevant given the current state of our world amidst the ongoing pandemic. When all seems lost, there is always the possibility for a better tomorrow. A Beautiful Curse presents meaningful content, aching with both hope and sorrow, imploring us to contemplate the true meaning of beauty.