VOD film review: The Most Beautiful Boy in the World
Charlotte Harrison | On 30, Jul 2021
Director: Kristina Lindström, Kristian Petri
Cast: Annike Andresen, Björn Andrésen, Silva Filmer
Where to watch The Most Beautiful Boy in the World online in the UK: BFI Player / Curzon Home Cinema / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store / Dogwoof On Demand
It was at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival that Death In Venice director Luchino Visconti declared one of his stars, Björn Andrésen, to be “the most beautiful boy in the world”. It was a descriptor that haunted him instantly and continues to do so, shaping much of his life and what was to come next. This documentary explores Andrésen’s life, the immediate consequences of being one of the most recognisable faces in the world and the continuing aftereffects.
The documentary opens with Andrésen and his girlfriend handling a tenancy dispute that could see him thrown out of his long-time home. It’s clearly a high stakes situation for the pair, but it’s something almost mundane and typical – a universal experience with some degree of relatability.
We hear some of his childhood, and touch upon tragedy which will be explored in more detail later before swiftly moving onto how he came to meet Visconti and the screentest that lead to instant fame. It’s a fascinating way of approaching the subject of this documentary, as it emphasises the impossible mythology that surrounded Andrésen while also seamlessly debunking it.
What follows is a deeply sad yet undeniably familiar cautionary tale about the perils of fame and the exploitation of children within the entertainment industry. Never intrusive, the documentary never probes Andrésen or forces him to expose beyond his levels of comfortability – it travels at his pace and he reveals what he wants to reveal when he feels ready. Lesser filmmakers would have prompted some grand and emotive confessional, a declaration of the bleak awfulness that occurred. Instead, Andrésen carefully peels back the layers over the course of the documentary, hitting with profound potency as a result.
His life has been one of great trauma and tragedy; the bright lights from starring in such an iconic role have left dark shadows, as this documentary carefully unpicks and explores. Filmmakers Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri depict Andrésen through a lens of great sympathy and empathy, carefully allowing him to have a voice that has been ignored for far too long. There presence is that of a friend or support, rather than an investigator. It’s what makes watching something about such a devastating topic bearable; each new revelation Andrésen makes feels like one made from choice. He has the power – something which he did not have for far too long.
A confrontation of the traumas of the past and a refusal to let their legacy cause even more damage, this is a powerfully sad tale tinged with hope.