A surprise reunion in the South of France causes passions to reignite and jealousies to swell in “Ma Belle, My Beauty,” a relationship drama from writer / director Marion Hill. The film features an on-screen depiction of a non-traditional, polyamorous relationship, which is a commendable display of inclusion and representation on film.
Bertie (Idella Johnson), Lane (Hannah Pepper-Cunningham), and Fred (Lucien Guignard) once shared a complicated relationship in New Orleans. Things got messy when Fred and Bertie, both musicians, decided to move to the French countryside and get married. Noticing that Bertie is becoming increasingly depressed to the point that it’s affecting her singing, Frank phones Lane to arrange a surprise visit. He hopes that his wife will cheer up is she sees her estranged former lover again. But with the arrival of their old flame, the trio’s messy history resurfaces.
Hill’s story feels intensely personal, and it features characters that aren’t seen often in films. Her screenplay reveals just enough about the three to keep things appropriately murky. It becomes clear that Lane’s obsession with Bertie is more like an addiction, but there’s (refreshingly) little resentment between the two women and Fred. It’s only when Lane brings back a beautiful local woman (Sivan Noam Shimon) and proceeds to have sex with her in the room next door that Bertie’s jealousy finally shows up.
“Ma Belle, My Beauty” isn’t without its flaws, but it’s terrific to see a queer female relationship portrayed in such a casual, realistic way.