At first glance Beat Girl, a new film about a young pianist grieving for her dead mother, discovering a love for DJing, and falling in love, is an intriguing proposition. Running alongside the film are a novelisation, web series, and mobile game; for a low budget film they have done all they can to generate extra content and spread the word. Sadly when it comes to the film itself the same effort is completely lacking.
The film is painfully predictable, the male lead himself has described the film as “Save the Last Dance with pianos” (I can’t think of a better way to describe it), and has been made with little effort, flair, or skill. What the film wants us to see is a girl who is passionate about music, suffering from the loss of her mother, and madly in love with the man who introduces her to DJing. Louise Dylan as Heather is incredibly sweet but does not show any passion whatsoever. She doesn’t seem overly affected by the loss of her mother; being more than happy to risk missing her memorial concert in favour of performing a DJ set. The lacklustre piano playing could be put down to grief but Heather shows the same level of enthusiasm when she steps behind the DJ booth.
For a film in which music plays such a vital role the soundtrack and sound design are incredibly weak. There’s few things worse in a film than when the characters are constantly having to tell you how talented someone is because they are failing to demonstrate it themselves. Heather’s DJ skills are utterly unconvincing and likely to offend anyone who takes their own talents seriously. Clutching headphones to your ear with one hand as you half-heartedly raise the other above your hand while smiling nervously does not make you a DJ.
Throw in the bland romance with fellow DJ Toby (Craig Daniel Adams) and you are left with very little to keep you interested. Toby was played with a constant fixed grin and a strange sheen of stilted staginess that left his every action feeling acted rather than natural. Even when Toby was sipping from a glass of water it didn’t quite ring true. Beat Girl is the story of a flaky and dispassionate musician who should probably stick to playing the piano and date a man who doesn’t grin so much..
One aspect of the film that does engage is the sub-plot involving Heather’s two best friends, played by Amy Brangwyn and Jonathan Holby, who are trying to forge a career in the fashion industry. Stranded in a film filled with cardboard characters and general blandness this pair are as close as the film gets to saving itself and each earn the film its sole two stars.
Beat Girl is on limited release from today and a full list of screening venues can be found on the film’s website.