UK

Synopsis

A long, hot summer in South London and Jamie Gangel is bunking off school more than usual, scurrying back to the TV and the flat in the vast Thamesmead estate where he lives with his mother Sandra. Next door lives Leah who's been kicked out of school and spends her days listening to Mama Cass records. Also in the same block is Jamie's classmate Ste, sporty and athletic, but who nevertheless receives regular beatings from his father and brother. One night, to escape the violence, Ste takes refuge in Sandra's flat and sleeps head to toe with Jamie. As Sandra struggles with job promotion and her relationship with her hippy-dippy boyfriend Tony, Jamie and Ste gradually discover their affection for each other.

Director's Statement

Beautiful Thing is the story of two teenage boys who fall in love and start to come to terms with their sexuality in a world which finds it hard to understand them.
Jonathan Harvey's screenplay (based on his stage play which I also directed) is proud and very funny. His writing has great charm and poignancy but it is never sentimental. It is a story about the power of love and is rooted in a belief in the human spirit. I think this optimism is central to the film, and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to show what a beautiful thing the love between two people can be no matter what sex they are.
I hope the film will help bring encouragement and affirmation to many young people who are going through the same experience as the two boys. I hope it will bring understanding and support for them from their friends and families. I hope it will make everyone who sees it feel that the things they want in life are possible.

Director's Biography

Hettie read English at Bristol University before joining the Royal Court Theatre under the Regional Theatre Trainee Director Scheme in 1985. But her career launched with a bang when she took over the direction of THE NORMAL HEART at the Albery Theatre and became, at twenty-four, the youngest woman to direct a play in the West End. Other early credits include WILLIAM and THE PLAGUE YEAR at the Royal Court, SHAMROCKS AND CROCODILES by Heidi Thomas at the Liverpool Playhouse, HEARTGAME at the Soho Poly and BEWARE OF PITY at the National Theatre Studio.
Hettie directed A PRICKSONG FOR THE NEW LEVIATHAN by James Stock at the Old Red Lion, LEAVE TAKING by Winsome Pinnock at the Women's Playhouse Trust and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at the Chester Gateway. This was followed by BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS at the Salisbury Playhouse, A JAMAICAN AIRMAN FORESEES HIS DEATH at the Royal Court, WATERLAND at the Shaw Theatre and Winsome Pinnock's TALKING IN TONGUES at the Royal Court.
In 1991 she became Associate Director at the Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. There she directed THE SLICING EDGE, ROAD, THE NOSE, ONCE IN A WHILE THE ODD THING HAPPENS, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, DEATHTRAP, MARGARET CATCHPOLE, A DOLL'S HOUSE, ABSENT FRIENDS, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL and Chekhov's THE THREE SISTERS.
More recent credits include THE MADMAN OF THE BALCONIES at the Gate Theatre, Alan Bleasdale's THE PARTY'S OVER at the Nottingham Playhouse, BEAUTIFUL THING at the Bush Theatre, an national tour and transferring to the Donmar Warehouse and the Duke of York's and ALL MY SONS for the Oxford Stage Company. Early in 1995 Hettie directed THE YIDDISH TROJAN WOMEN by Carol Braverman for the Soho Theatre Company.
BEAUTIFUL THING is her first film.
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Hettie MacDonald

Written by: Jonathan Harvey

Produced by: Tony Garnett, Bill Shapter

Main Cast: Glen Berry (Jamie Gangel), Scott Neal (Ste Pearce), Linda Henry (Sandra Gangel), Meera Syal (Miss Chauhan), Steven M. Martin (Ryan McBride), Andrew Fraser (Jayson), John Savage (Lenny), Julie Smith (Gina), Jeillo Edwards (Rose)

Nominations and Awards

  • Young European Film 1996
  • Feature Film Selection 1996