Beautiful, originally released theatrically last year, is now on DVD, courtesy of Columbia Tristar. Beautiful was directed by Sally Field, and stars Minnie Driver (Mona), Hallie Kate Eisenberg (Vanessa), Joey Lauren Adams (Ruby), Leslie Stefanson (Joyce), Bridgette Wilson (Lorna, Miss Texas), and Kathleen Turner.
As a little girl, Mona dreamed of being a beauty queen. Ignored for the most part by her mother and stepfather, Mona got part time jobs to pay for her braces and the entrance fees for the local pageants. But it wasn't until she befriended Ruby in school that she started to win. Ruby and her grandmother made Mona fantastic dresses to wear, and throughout the years, the two of them stuck together and shared Mona's dream of winning the title of Miss America Miss. However, that's put in jeopardy when Mona gets pregnant; the rules of the pageant state that contestants can't be pregnant or mothers. Ruby agrees to raise the baby as her own, so Mona can chase her dreams without restraints. Seven years later, the baby, Vanessa, is all grown up, and Mona wins the title of Miss Illinois. Still dependent on Ruby for advice and help, she's devastated when Ruby is falsely arrested when one of her patients in the nursing home dies from a drug overdose. With only each other now, Vanessa and Mona begin to grow closer and develop a friendship, and with the Miss America Miss pageant looming on the horizon, Mona must make a choice as to which is more important to her…the title or her own daughter.
I really liked Beautiful, though I had my doubts going in, as the last beauty pageant film I saw, Drop Dead Gorgeous, was absolutely horrible. Well, Beautiful is completely different. The movie is mostly focused on Mona and how she develops as a person, rather than on the competitive nature of pageants. I was also really impressed with the acting of Driver, Adams, and especially Eisenberg, who manages to steal the scenes she's in.
Beautiful is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full screen on opposite sides of the DVD. The widescreen print is terrific with only some minor shimmering that I detected. Flesh tones are accurate, colors are vibrant, and blacks are deep and rich.
Beautiful is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 with optional subtitles in English and Spanish. Surrounds are sparsely used, but this is to be expected, as it's a dialogue driven film. The music, especially near the end during the Miss America Miss Pageant, sounds terrific. Dialogue throughout the film is crisp and clean with no distortion that I could detect.
Extras include talent files for Minnie Driver, Sally Field, and Kathleen Turner, along with trailers for this film and 28 Days.
I really enjoyed Beautiful, and though I'm sure it won't appeal to everyone, it does have a great story and message. Fans of Minnie Driver or beauty pageants in general should definitely give Beautiful a look. Recommended.