Sunday, 7 October 2018

Beast: Film Review

Beast: Film Review


Cast: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James
Director: Michael Pearce

"If you keep carrying that around, you don't get to stand up straight."
Beast: Film Review

A line spoken midway in the searing and sensational psychological thriller Beast sums up most of what transpires here.

Anchored by a stunning lead from Buckley, it's the story of Moll, a 27-year-old who lives at her Jersey home under the monstrously cruel eye of her mother (Geraldine James, in a beyond icy and non-maternal role) due to something in her past.

On her birthday, she's upstaged by the announcement of the imminent arrival of twins, and heading out for the night she encounters "bit of rough" Pascal (Flynn, an almost Tom Felton-esque physique). Initially disinterested, Moll forms a connection to Pascal, despite the warnings from her family and others about the apparent bad boy.

As she begins to rebel, the backdrop of a series of brutal murders on girls comes crisply into focus...

Beast is a terrific film that revels in its atmosphere of unease.
Beast: Film Review

Pulling in very familiar elements and the oppressive nature of small town mentalities, it could so easily have crumbled under the weight of its-been-there-seen-it-repeatedly-before story.

However, anchored by a truly gripping performance from Buckley as Moll, the film finds a way to transcend its cliche, and become some kind of spiritual partner to The Falling, Picnic at Hanging Rock and any other film that clues in alienation / rebellion.

Buckley's ability to deliver a natural performance, complete with a feeling of depth from an unknown past makes Moll as much a dangerous character as the perceptions swirling around Pascal. Wrestling both a desire to rebel, a want to escape the controlling grip of her mother, and an inherent internal conflict, Buckley turns in a nuanced and subtle performance which feels rounded and sickeningly engaging.

As the twisted touches play out, Beast's ability to grip right until the very end gels well with its sense of unease. Sour and suspenseful, director and writer Michael Pearce makes Beast soar; but it's his leading actress that makes this mix of dread and desire rise effortlessly into the stratosphere.

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