The documentary “The Most Beautiful Boy in the World” opens on a disturbing notice: an aged Björn Andrésen, now 66 years previous, walks slowly down a dilapidated, empty, blue-lit hallway. The paint is peeling from the partitions. The ceiling is tattered and ruined. His silhouette, marked by his black overcoat, is nothing greater than a lonely defined unearthing painful recollections. A soundtrack of audio tapes from his childhood performs. Utilizing cross cuts, editors Dino Jonsäter and Hanna Lejonqvist then transport us to February 1970, a chilly day in Stockholm, the day that will change Andrésen’s life endlessly.
In “The Most Beautiful Boy in the World,” a heart-wrenching documentary, co-directors Kristina Lindström, and Kristian Petri puncture the uneasy vein of kid star constructing, explaining how typically the follow ensnare the weak. They accomplish that by telling the story of as soon as Swedish teen idol Andrésen, who on the age of fifteen was solid as Tadzio in Italian director Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novel Dying in Venice. The half would convey the Swedish actor’s fame, adulation, and adoring followers just for the following noise of stardom to rupture his life, completely.
The documentary first thrives as artwork imitating life. The Mann novel had enraptured Visconti for some years, previously crystallizing his plans to adapt it whereas filming “The Damned.” The fundamental plot takes place in 1911 on the Grand Hôtel des Bains on the Lido, and considerations an older composer who turns into infatuated with an adolescent Polish boy named Tadzio, an attraction the overtly homosexual Visconti didn’t take into account gay in nature. The story lives and dies with Tadzio, an ethereal magnificence described as an angel of demise with honey-colored hair.
Much like the composer, Visconti turns obsessive about discovering this boy. For the casting, he searched Hungary, Poland, Finland, and Russia earlier than a touchdown in Stockholm. Lindström and Petri have a wealth of footage from the audition to attract from. Within the opening clip, the blonde-haired Andrésen walks in, and there’s a way of melancholy to him, a forlornness not in contrast to a Romantic poet. You get the sense that he’s by no means auditioned earlier than. His nervous power is palpable, the power that heightens when Visconti asks him to take off his shirt. Seeing his anxious smile, as if he’s afraid of disappointing, the pure frustration of there being no mother and father within the room, no grown-up keen to cease the leering audition units the emotional tone for the remainder of the movie.
Now the as soon as a teen idol, a form of Timothée Chalamet of his period, is vastly completely different from the naive younger man within the 1970 Tremendous eight footage. For those who’ve ever seen Caspar David Friedrich’s portray “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog,” you’ll understand it’s emblematic of the romantic hero: the younger man trying over the vista of cloudy mountains towards his huge unknown future. There’s a way of reflection and quiet abandonment to the work, an amber-protected portrait of youth. The current-day Andrésen, bordering on frail, along with his lengthy, gray wispy hair offering half his weight, is Friedrich’s romantic hero, however now on the different aspect of the mountain. And he’s trying over a view that isn’t almost as hopeful.
“The Most Beautiful Boy in the World” has a barely fractured association. Pushed by Filip Leyman and Anna Von Hausswolff’s hard-charging rating, Lindström and Petri’s movie cycles via the tragedies in Andrésen’s life, which are sometimes extra experientially related than narratively. Fairly his recollections typically play as siloed investigations, a timbre the unraveling edit tries to piece collectively.
Whereas combating an eviction discover (his residence is described as an “environmental hazard”) and dealing to keep up his relationship along with his girlfriend Jessica Vennberg, he thinks again on the aftermath of engaged on “Death in Venice,” particularly through the Cannes Movie Competition. It’s right here the moniker “essentially the most lovely boy on this planet,” bestowed upon him by Visconti whereas in London, takes form. Within the clips, there’s concentrating on the director’s half: at one level, he explains how Andrésen’s misplaced a few of his magnificence now that he’s barely older. Andrésen typically veers very intently to equating homosexuality with pedophilia, which ought to supply some pause, even when the documentary doesn’t endorse the sentiment.
Andrésen additionally recounts the numerous instances adults took benefit of him: his granny who first took him to the audition; the folks at a Cannes afterparty at a homosexual bar; the amphetamines given to him in Japan; the disquieting patron in Paris who paraded him as a trophy. The actor is usually opaque about what he handled, to the purpose of his experiences being indecipherable fairly than simply defined. Such because the aforementioned Parisian journey, which reads as if he went into intercourse work, however, didn’t. His muddiness, which impedes the brisk tempo of the documentary’s opening third, is emblematic of the aftereffects of traumatic occasions however doesn’t make for a simply digestible watch through the movie’s center third both.
It’s not till “The Most Beautiful Boy in the World” re-contextualizes once more the generational trauma that led Andrésen to who he’s now—the demise by the suicide of his mom—that the narrative solidifies around an emotional point of interest. The bleakest cases happen when the Swedish actor reads his mother’s police report, which describes how her physique was discovered, and when he remembers the kid he misplaced to Sudden Toddler Dying Syndrome. By the movie’s finish, there are two overarching ideas: “This was a person who was fated to be harmful” and we wish to attain again in time and pull him away from that audition.
“The Most Beautiful Boy in the World” isn’t an ideal watch, and it is typically complicated and confounding. Nevertheless, it will get on the coronary heart of this forlorn determine, as soon as an idol-turned tragic Greek hero. It’s unflinching, and one of the trustworthy portraits of the pitfalls that may occur in little one stardom.