Beautiful Thing (1996)

The story is set and filmed on Thamesmead, a working class area of South East London dominated by post-war council estates.

Jamie (Glen Berry), a teen who is infatuated with his classmate, Ste (Scott Neal), has to deal with his single mother Sandra (Linda Henry), who is pre-occupied with ambitious plans to run her own pub and with an ever-changing string of lovers, the latest of whom is Tony (Ben Daniels), a neo-hippie. Sandra finds herself at odds with Leah (Tameka Empson), a sassy and rude neighbour girl who has been expelled from school, does several drugs, and constantly listens and sings along to her mother’s Cass Elliot records. While Jamie’s homosexuality remains concealed, his introvert nature and dislike of football are reason enough for his classmates to bully him at every opportunity.

Ste, who is living together with his drug-dealing brother and abusive, alcoholic father in the flat next door, is one night beaten by his brother so badly that Sandra takes pity and lets him sleep over. In the absence of a third bed, Ste has to make do with sleeping ‘top-to-toe’ with Jamie. On the second night they share a bed, after a massage and a minor conversation, the boys soon change sleeping arrangements and Jamie kisses Ste for the first time.

The next morning, Ste panics and leaves before Jamie awakens, avoiding him for days. Jamie works up the nerve to steal a Gay Times from a newsagent, apparently starting to accept his sexuality and affection for Ste. Jamie finally spots Ste at a nearby party and confronts him; they prepare to leave together. The party ends badly, with Sandra taking vengeance on Leah for gossiping, who then threatens to ‘spill the beans’ about Ste and Jamie and confesses to having covered up for Ste in front of his father and brother. Ste reacts poorly, angrily rejecting Jamie and running away.

Slowly, Ste accepts Jamie’s love and their relationship develops as they visit a gay pub together. Sandra follows them and discovers their secret, and the movie reaches its climax as a bad trip by Leah (on an unnamed drug) precipitates Sandra’s breakup with Tony; the news of Sandra’s new job comes out; and Sandra confronts Ste and Jamie. Sandra comes to accept her son’s relationship.

The play ends with the two boys slow-dancing in the courtyard of their council flats to the tune of the Cass Elliot classic, Dream a Little Dream of Me, while a guarding Sandra dances defiantly at their side with Leah as the local residents look on; some of them shocked, some of them enjoying the moment themselves.


Linda Henry as Sandra Gangel
Meera Syal as Miss Chauhan
Glen Berry as Jamie Gangel
Martin Walsh as Mr. Bennett
Steven M. Martin as Ryan McBride
Scott Neal as Ste Pearce
Tameka Empson as Leah Russell
Andrew Fraser as Jayson
Ben Daniels as Tony

It was a good movie, usually I don’t really like coming of age story or movie, but this one is an exception. The storyline was good, and the acting was also good. A recommended movie, especially for those of you who likes this genre.

a pitcher of Scott Neal

and Glen Berry

Best quote:

Ste: [reading magazine] You cannot transmit the HIV virus by frottage.
Ste: What’s frottage?
Jamie Gangel: It’s yogurt. It’s French.



2 responses to “Beautiful Thing (1996)

  1. This film is amazing! i loved it.
    its really quite thought provoking

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