The Most Beautiful Boy in the World (2021) review
Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri’s Swedish-language documentary is a fascinating but ultimately bloated investigation of the weight of childhood fame.
Björn Andrésen, perhaps most recognisable to a modern audience as the patriarch Dan in Midsommar, had little in the way of a film career. However, the weight of his debut in the spotlight has clouded and almost ruined his life.
When Andrésen was a young teen, virtuoso director Luchino Visconti cast him as Tadzio in his 1971 adaptation of Death in Venice, the pubescent object of composer von Aschenbach’s (Dirk Bogarde) unhealthy fixation. Visconti, who had searched far and wide for the perfect Tadzio, proclaimed the young, naive and insecure Andrésen to be the most beautiful boy in the world, putting him on the stage for all to see.
The first 20 minutes of The Most Beautiful Boy in the Word, which focus on the boy’s fateful casting and instant stardom, are uniquely fascinating. Stories of child stardom often make for predictably sad viewing, but there’s an almost classical profundity to Andrésen’s tragedy.
The documentary soon moves away from these pivotal years and into the life of Andrésen today, quickly running out of steam. Andrésen lives alone in a small flat, his long hair and beard obscuring what was once the most beautiful face. Unfortunately, most scenes linger on Andrésen staring out of his window, or into the sea on the beach, and you can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t enough material for a 90-minute documentary in the end.