Eternal Beauty is a touching, thought-provoking film about a woman, Jane (Sally Hawkins, on sparkling form), living with paranoid schizophrenia. Its triumph is its unswerving ability to present mental illness without judgement. Jane is a fragile but buoyant character, passionate about living her life exactly as she wants to, and certainly not painted as a figure to be pitied. In fact, if there’s anything to pity, it’s the awful family she’s saddled with, including a vicious mother (Penelope Wilton) and a bored and manipulative sister (Billie Piper).

There’s comedy in the unpleasantness, the discomfort, and the prejudice. This keeps Eternal Beauty briskly moving along, no time for wallowing, keeping pace with its vibrant subject, Jane. A standout scene has her purchase her own Christmas presents from family members, and then treat the unwilling group to the show of her opening them all with genuine glee.

The film reflects Jane’s state of mind in its rather jarring jumps from scene to scene, avoiding a neat, linear pattern in favour of a slightly messy and abrupt narrative. This lends itself well to inviting questions over both motive and circumstance throughout – is it Jane or her family who deserve judgement? And are these events even real – or imagined? The soundscape and music really add personality and vibrancy to Eternal Beauty, as well as layers to Jane’s character, as does the quirky camerawork. There’s clear influence from filmmakers like Wes Anderson, but writer-director Craig Roberts looks to put his own stamp on this assured second feature film.

Eternal Beauty possesses a fabulous cast, led by Sally Hawkins’ peerless vulnerability and expression. It’s impossible to imagine another actor as Jane, but unfair to minimise the talent of the rest of its cohort (particularly David Thewlis). Overall, although not a totally unique film, it’s an authentic and heartfelt production.



CAST: Sally Hawkins, Alice Lowe, David Thewlis, Billie Piper, Penelope Wilton, Robert Pugh, Morfydd Clark, Rita Bernard-Shaw, Natalie O’Neill

DIRECTOR: Craig Roberts

WRITER: Craig Roberts

SYNOPSIS: After Jane (Sally Hawkins) falls into a state of despair over her schizophrenia, she encounters new sources of love and life with surprising results.