By Leah Rozen
October 09, 2000 12:00 PM

Minnie Driver, Joey Lauren Adams, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Kathleen Turner

Sally Field’s famous “You like me” speech at the 1985 Oscars resonates throughout Beautiful, a cloying drama that marks the actress’s debut as a movie director. Beautiful’s protagonist, Mona Hibbard (Driver), desperately wants folks to like her, and she thinks winning beauty pageants is the way to achieve this. Mona is so driven to nab a crown that when she gives birth out of wedlock—an automatic disqualifier on the pageant circuit—she persuades a friend (Adams) to raise the little girl (Eisenberg) as her own.

Back in her younger days, Field herself might have been able to make this role (and this movie) work, beguiling us enough to put up with Mona’s detestable behavior. But Driver’s selfish monster fails to charm. She pushes too hard, pushing away viewers in the process. (PG-13)

Bottom Line: Field comes up fallow