Jane is seated next to the snack table when she realizes that her sister’s seemingly innocuous Halloween party is, in fact, filled with actual Frankensteins. Behind every mask is a monster. Each costume is a disguise, a ruse to disarm potential prey, but Jane is smarter than that. She quickly ushers her nephew Jack over—she has to warn him. His pulse feels steady and strong; he is real. She has to save him before cannibalism takes over. “The fridge, Jack,” she whispers. Jack opens the door, revealing human limbs ready to eat. Jane grabs the boy and the two fast walk towards the front door, hoping to escape unnoticed.
Suspenseful scenes like this often characterize the public’s conception of paranoid schizophrenia, a condition with which Jane (Sally Hawkins) has been diagnosed. After being left at the altar, Jane falls into a tailspin and is faced with both real and imagined dilemmas. Through a series of flashbacks, we follow Jane’s triumphs and struggles as they are colored by her own perspective. Eternal Beauty provides a first-person perspective of the condition, allowing us to see the world as Jane does.
Jane’s nondescript British hometown provides a backdrop for her story, the brightly colored taffeta and vintage cars reminiscent of the 1980s. You too may appreciate the film’s parade of color; bright contrasts and monochromatic scenes help dramatize moments and characters, adding a sort of surrealist tone to Jane’s narration.
ETERNAL BEAUTY Tells of a Unique Superpower
Jane sits at a picnic table with her sister. Her tan coat matches the dry grass; her sister’s red jacket matches their fruit punch.
“You don’t want to be normal. Trust me,” says her sister.
“Sometimes I do,” says Jane, “But most of the time, I like being this powerful.”
Jane’s story is not tragic, in this writer’s view, despite some intensely distressing circumstances. Her character is defined by perseverance, wisdom, and even humor. She dances on the bed and gives a show stopping rendition of I Will Survive. On Christmas, she arrives at her parents’ house with all of her own presents, handing each relative a receipt and thanking them for somehow knowing exactly what she wanted. However, constantly interrupting these quirky moments are ominous phone calls from a mystery man and beams of light coming through the walls.
Jane’s story shows the human side of paranoid schizophrenia; she goes through heartbreaks, failures, and triumphs—just like the rest of us. Her mind simply works in a different way, which sometimes makes her uniquely insightful. Eternal Beauty will interest anyone looking for a unique and complicated take on a much-stereotyped condition, one that emphasizes the character’s humanity over all.
Run time: 94 minutes
For more information and streaming, visit Samuel Goldwyn Films
Directed and Written by Craig Roberts
Produced by Adrian Bate
Cast: Sally Hawkins, David Thewlis, Billie Piper, Alice Lowe, Penelope Wilton
Images Courtesy of Eternal Beauty
About the Author: Isabella Sturgis
Isabella Sturgis is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in Psychology and Creative Writing. A lifelong fan of the arts—from film to ballet to literature—Isabella is continuously searching for her next favorite piece or production. She hopes to pursue a career in public relations, journalism, or publishing and, if she’s lucky, even publish a book of her own. In her free time, you can find her reading David Sedaris or listening to the Cats soundtrack.