Marion Hill’s debut feature is a sun-kissed, but half baked, portrait of non-traditional romance. Set against the French countryside, Ma Belle, My Beauty explores the recent marriage and international move from New Orleans between aspiring jazz performers Bertie (Idella Johnson) and Fred (Lucien Guignard). Bertie starts to feel isolated by the overwhelming whiteness of France as a Black woman, her husband’s lack of motivation to learn French or jump-start their career frustrates her, and she is still recovering from a family tragedy. So Fred decides to bring their old flame Lane (Hannah Pepper) to help heal those wounds. Marion Hill wears a lot of hats in this production—director, writer, editor, producer—which is not uncommon for a first film. However, she feels stretched thin in the end product, and it’s the writing that ultimately suffers. The performances are wound tight and the setting is undeniably gorgeous, but Ma Belle, My Beauty feels uninterested in its characters’ motivations and their main source of conflict—how to manuever the complicated cogs of the polyamorous machine. 93 min.
In wide release