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A Synopsis of Beautiful Thing

Jamie, Ste and Leah; three teenagers kicking their heels one long, hot summer, neighbours on Thamesmead Estate in south-east London

In the middle flat Jamie lives with his pub manager mum, Sandra. Jamie's going through a few problems at school, much to the chagrin of the gutsy Sandra. Sandra's holding down a relationship with the dippy, hippy new man in her life, Tony, whilst dreaming of promotion.

Next door lives Ste, sporty and good looking, with his brother and alcoholic father. The atmosphere here is tense at the best of times.

On the other side live Leah and her mum. Leah's been kicked out of school and passes her time listening to her mum's old records - she's become obsessed with the music of the Mamas and the Papas and particularly with Mama Cass.

Life drifts along for the three friends, until one night Ste is beaten up by his brother and flees next door to the safety of Sandra's flat. Sleeping embarrassed head-to-toe, Jamie realises that he is in love with Ste. As the bullying continues, so Ste sleeps over with Jamie even more. Here Ste finds a motherly tenderness he has so far missed out on in life. He finds himself drawn more and more to Jamie.

But it is not as straightforward as that. How can you be gay on this tough estate? As Ste and Jamie are sorting things out in their heads, Sandra discovers what is going on. But she knows she can't kick Jamie out. Her love for him is too strong, and she decides to try and understand. She has recently been promoted and is about to start running her own pub. But it is clear that while things will always be different, Ste will never tell his dad or brother that he too is gay.

The film ends on an optimistic note with Jamie and Ste slow-dancing in the sunshine, and Leah and Sandra, usually at each other's throats, reconciling their differences and slow-dancing alongside them.

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Last Modified 6-September-1996
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