This is an atmospheric thriller. No, the plot isn't ridiculously tangled and doesn't have countless twists, like many Hollywood thrillers that seem to feel obligated to throw dozens of red herrings at the audience so that they feel sufficiently fishy when they leave the theater.
But neither is this movie trying to be an over-the-top freakfest like a Lynch film. I love David Lynch's style and the effect his films have on me, but this is quite different.
This movie was slow and calculated, with plenty of scenes to build atmosphere -- and thereby deepen the sense of character and environment. No, every scene does not advance the plot. Yes, you can tell most of what's going to happen in advance.
But for a strange story about a demented youth for whom everything goes terribly wrong, I thought this was wonderful. All the actors are top-notch, and the cinematography is delightful.
A more accurate frame of reference than the above-mentioned movies would be "Heavenly Creatures," Peter Jackson's tale of the disturbed fantasy life of two girls that explodes into violence. I felt shades of that story throughout "Beautiful." If you want a fast-moving, keep-you-guessing thriller, don't look here. You'll be disappointed. But if you want to see a nicely shot, atmospheric tale that slowly spins out of control, this is well worth your time.