It’s not very often I get to do multiple shorts by the same director. When I do, I always enjoy it, because I can often see a growth that occurs as a director becomes more confident in the style of what they shoot for in a film. That’s something I got to experience with Nicholas Goodwin’s short film Shadow and now his short film Beauty Queen – which is available on Youtube for those interested.
Beauty Queen stars Christina Goursky as Christina – a young girl who will be headed off to college shortly. But she dreams of being more than just smart – she wants to be considered beautiful as well. Her father, David, played by Timothy J. Cox, a frequent collaborator to our little corner of the internet, is just happy that his girl is headed off to college. It’s a story about the difference between physical beauty – and the story of a father and a daughter.
Technically, I think there were some issues with Beauty Queen – the first being with the sound. There are times where the audio gets really quiet and there are some obvious fades in the sound due to editing and voiceovers. There is also one scene where I feel like the ball got dropped a bit with the lighting. I completely understand WHY it was dropped – there are actually some beautiful shots with the normal light gone, using the light from the fire to reflect on the characters, particularly on Cox’s glasses – but it is at the point where you can barely make out the people’s faces. I know from past experience that Cox has an extremely expressive face, and young Goursky seems to as well – so the scene probably would have benefited from being able to see them. These are both problems that plagued Shadow.
That being said, I enjoyed the story a bit more than my last Goodwin short. Maybe that’s because in this case there is a lot more happiness, despite the obvious parallels. In both situations, young girls are taken advantage of – but this one ends abruptly, and there is a happy ending for Christina. That doesn’t happen in every example of abuse. I’d also like to say that I really like the fact that the film emphasized intelligence against beauty. Is that cliché? Maybe a little, but it still manages to overcome the cliché. It’s a good example of using the story to build through the actor’s performances. The story builds slowly, and I actually enjoy using the classroom introduction to set the expectations of the short before it gets going too much.
The only thing from a story standpoint I wish I could see more of the relationship between David and Christina. We get a full small hints of how long they’ve been on their own – David having her coffee cup ready when she enters the room is a good one – but they’re few, and I think maybe the scenes of Christina putting on her face are a bit too long and robbed the short of extra characterization moments.
All in all, I thought this one was pretty good, despite the technical difficulties. I’m giving it a “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"