Netflix’s latest batch of original movies have mostly failed to impress. Efforts like Spiderhead and The Man from Toronto may have climbed into the streamer’s top 10, but they’ve suffered a critical breach and seemingly left little impression on subscribers.
The same could end up being the case for Netflix’s latest movie to make the streamer’s most-watched movie list, Beauty. Released last week (Wednesday June 29) this drama comes from director Andrew Dosunmu and stars Gracie Marie Bradley in the title role. And while a lot of people are watching it – it’s currently number 4 on Netflix US – the critical reaction has been pretty bad.
What is Beauty?
Beauty stars Gracie Marie Bradly in the title role of a young woman with an amazing singing voice. After being offered a lucrative recording contract, she struggles to maintain her voice and identity as the pressures of being a professional singer take their toll.
As her career begins to take off, a fierce battle rages between her deeply religious parents, her well-meaning girlfriend, demanding label executives and sinister outside influences. All these parties want to guide Beauty on her journey, but the road to stardom can be disastrous.
Although not a biopic, the film is said to be inspired by the early career of American singer Whitney Houston. Along with Gracie Marie Bradly in the title role, Beauty also stars Niecy Nash, Aleyse Shannon, Giancarlo Esposito, Kyle Bary, Micheal Ward and Sharon Stone.
What are critics saying about Beauty?
It’s fair to say that critics haven’t been particularly kind to Beauty: the Netflix film currently garners an abysmal 20% on the review aggregate site Rotten tomatoes (opens in new tab). Granted, this could improve as more publications give their verdict, but even so, it seems unlikely that Netflix will be bragging about the film’s critical reception anytime soon.
Noel Murray’s The Los Angeles Times (opens in new tab) claimed that the film “lacks dimension,” writing that “this semi-true story is ultimately too sketchy to have anything effective to say about Houston, mainstream success, or being in the closet.”
Time magazine (opens in new tab)Stephanie Zacharek was equally disappointed with Beauty, noting that the film “ends before it’s really dug into anything important.” Zacharek was also critical of Beauty’s role in the film: “Her heroine, who we know is headed for trouble, is stuck in the middle of her own story.”
Not all reviews were negative – just most of them. Lisa Kennedy’s The New York Times (opens in new tab), For example, it was more complimentary, declaring Beauty “an elegy with an edge, an elegy that touches faith and finance, love and damnation.” With that in mind, you might want to at least give the movie a chance; it’s only 90 minutes long after all.
Analysis: Another Netflix disappointment
While Netflix has added some notable classics to its library in recent weeks, the world’s largest streaming service is currently struggling when it comes to original movies. The beauty is just the latest disappointment in an ever-growing list of incredible moves.
Its top 10 ranking suggests it’s getting subscriber attention right out of the gate. But with such a poor critical reception, it’s unlikely that Beauty will hold its ground for too long. Expect it to quickly fade into the depths of Netflix’s empty content, destined to reappear only if the algorithm randomly recommends it to future subscribers.
While Netflix isn’t exactly knocking it out of the park when it comes to new movies, there are still plenty of great ones movies to stream this week on competing services including Hulu and Prime Video. Plus, Netflix has another batch of original movies due later this week, so maybe one of those can earn the streamer some slightly kinder reviews.
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