Sundance 2021: Ma Belle, My Beauty

Idella Johnson and Hannah Pepper appear in Ma Belle, My Beauty by Marion Hill, an official selection of the NEXT section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Lauren Guiteras.

It turns out to be business as usual when polyamorous lovers reunite in France in the Sundance-premiering Ma Belle, My Beauty.

Before we meet them in France, Lane (Hannah Pepper), Bertie (Idella Johnson), and Fred (Lucien Guignard) used to be polyamorous lovers in New Orleans.  Everyone loved Bertie so things worked out.  All good things come to an end.  Out of the blue, Lane would soon depart from their lives.  But when we meet them at the top of the film, Bertie and Fred are now married and living in France.  Are they happy?  You’ll have to wait and see.  And then Lane shows up.  Not all is as it seems, of course.  Things have changed in their life but maybe Lane is the spark that Bertie needs.  Or maybe not.  And then Noa (Sivan Noam Shimon) enters the picture.  You can imagine the jealousy that eventually shows up.  It is inevitable!

Polyamorous relationships typically get the short end of the stick when it comes to cinematic treatment.  I can think of very few films to tell you the truth.  Or at least very few films to hit the mainstream.  Recent films that come to mind include Professor Marston and The Wonder Women and Laura Madlinski’s Two in the Bush: A Love Story.  But aside from this, they are few and far between.  On one hand, it’s nice to see Sundance selecting films that aren’t the usual heterosexual love stories.  Not everybody is cisgender or heterosexual so it’s nice to see films that normalize being something else.  This transgender (bisexual?) film critic appreciates it!

The film’s 93 minute run time does feel somewhat longer than it actually is.  This could be because of the less than preferable viewing that I had on late Monday morning into the early afternoon.  I’m telling you–these films NEED to be watched in movie theaters for the best possible reaction.  That and I got some rather disappointing news while watching the film in my apartment.

Ma Belle, My Beauty is a solid addition to the polyamorous canon.

CAST:  Idella Johnson, Hannah Pepper, Lucien Guignard, and Sivan Noam Shimon

Ma Belle, My Beauty holds its world premiere during the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the NEXT program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.