QFest St. Louis Presents MA BELLE, MY BEAUTY Film Review — Happiness Isn’t Always Easy


Life is moving fast for musicians Bertie and Fred—soon after getting married they left their home in vibrant New Orleans for the remote, pastel countryside of France, all the while planning their next tour with their jazz band. Despite their fresh start and the surrounding beauty of their humble new home, there is something noticeably tugging at Bertie as she battles depression and the void left behind by Lane—a former romantic partner to both Fred and Bertie in Louisiana, who up and left without so much as a word.

The whirlwind of their new life comes to a halt when, upon Fred’s request, Lane shows up at their villa. What follows in this 95-minute film is far from cliche, and incorporates various plot twists along the way—from coincidental new lovers to life-changing, unrequited love.

QFEST ST. LOUIS Proudly Presents Queer Love — All Forms

Whether they are exploring unfamiliar produce at a crowded French market, cooking and drinking wine together in an empty home, or allowing themselves to be intimate under the moonlight, the two women build a tension between each other that could be cut with a knife. But when day breaks, so does the reality of their situation.

The relationship all three once shared leaves a lingering closeness and confusion, one that Fred capitalizes on. This all comes to a head while Fred and Lane are dancing in a dim living room; picking at old wounds, he asks her, “Do you still love her?” to which Lane responds, “Do you?”

Selfishness Can Complicate Happiness

As Lane’s weekend stay grows into a longer one, the can of worms they have opened may result in more pain than intended. When Bertie exclaims to Lane, “My happiness is not tied to you, or to him,” this film pivots into a more realistic lens than typical of this genre, in this writer’s view.

MA BELLE, MY BEAUTY is a film best suited for those who enjoy seeing queer characters in any context—flaws and all—and especially for people who love stories about love.


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Idella Johnson (Bertie)
Hannah Pepper (Lane)
Lucien Guignard (Fred)
Sivan Noam Shimon (Noa)


Marion Hill (producer)
Ben Matheny (producer)
Kelsey Scult (producer)
Zaferhan Yumru (associate producer)
Mahmoud Chouki (music)
Lauren Guiteras (cinematography)
Marion Hill (film editing)
Jalea Jackson (digital imaging technician, assistant editor)


Now thru April 25


Streaming through QFest St. Louis


Prices from $50 to $115

For more information, or to purchase tickets visit the QFest St. Louis website.

For more information about the film, or for more updates visit the Ma Belle, Ma Beauty website.

Images courtesy of QFest St. Louis

Margaret Smith ( Photo by Mike Rundle )

About the Author: Margaret Smith ( Photo by Mike Rundle )

Margaret Smith is a multi-genre writer, editor, and Americano enthusiast based out of Chicago. Having recently achieved her B.A. from Columbia College Chicago, she’s now been granted the time to fully enjoy the arts and cultural offerings around her—as well as pursue hobbies such as swimming and reading her way through her bookshelf.

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