Writer/director Jesse V. Johnson is like a jack of all trades. Not only is he a seasoned stunt performer in major Hollywood productions like THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, THE GREEN HORNET, TERMINATOR 3, and others, he’s also a talented director. His directorial efforts tend fall into the generic action film category and I’m not saying that as a bad thing. They’re just meant to be escapist fun. Johnson has so much more to offer and those pictures just don’t allow him the opportunity to bring out his passion for film. The director was brave enough to step away from his previous bread and butter in order to create a film to showcase his talents. THE BEAUTIFUL ONES is what he gave birth to and it delivers a truly unique and exciting take on the classic tale of ROMEO AND JULIET.
Tancredi (Ross McCall) is what you would call a mobster. He’s tough as nails with a style and swagger much like his idol, Steve McQueen. His Aunt Caterina (Julie Warner) runs the family business and she has an assignment for him: get close to the daugher of rival mobster Tony Romano (Anthony V. Pugliese III). He does as he’s told but Eva (Fernanda Andrade) is something special. He finds himself quickly falling in love with her. Their love is a dangerous mix for the life they live and the two find themselves as the centerpiece in a mob war where no one will be safe.
THE BEAUTIFUL ONES is a hard film to categorize and might have a difficult time finding an audience. With that being said, I thought it was fantastic! I loved the whole modern film noir aspect to it. Back in the early 90’s like 91 or 92, is when I truly began to appreciate independent cinema. It was around the same time that directors like Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Allison Anders, Tom Dicillo, Richard Linklater, and numerous other filmmakers were making these movies like no one had really seen before. It was an exciting time for film geeks but I don’t feel there are enough films of that caliber being made these days. Watching THE BEAUTIFUL ONES, I was reminded of that time period and was truly excited to watching it. It’s full of these little touches (intentional or not) that connected most with me. I liked there was a discussion mentioning Kinji Fukasaku, I liked there was a Zoltar machine in the background, and I liked seeing Eva’s reflection in Gabriel’s sunglasses when he confessed knowing who her father was. I love how it was shot and the black and white looked stunning, especially during the finale. The music was unique and provocative, I’m in love with the songs and Anikiko’s voice is mesmerizing. It’s a far departure from Johnson’s previous works, showing a depth and growth I wasn’t expecting while never quite abandoning his roots. Ross McCall was damn near perfect! If people aren’t talking about him after seeing this then there’s something seriously wrong with audiences. The entire cast really helped to pull this together. The action is less stylized and more in your face, the perfect choice for this particular film. Jesse Johnson is an exciting filmmaker and THE BEAUTIFUL ONES is a film you won’t want to miss.