Film Review – Beast

Beast (M)

Directed by: Michael Pearce

Starring: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James

Four stars

Review by Julian Wright

 

Are we all just vicious, violent animals, but some of us are better at suppressing it than others?

Beast asks this thought provoking question as it explores the relationship between two people who have dark similarities.

Despite being a functioning adult in her mid-20s and working full time as a tour guide on her island home of Jersey in the English Channel, Moll (Jessie Buckley) still lives with her parents and under her mother Hilary’s (Geraldine James) heavy thumb.

The isolation of her low-key location and her mother’s strict rules makes Moll yearn for some adventure, so when her sister announces her engagement at Moll’s birthday party, the birthday girl bolts to a local pub.

Moll meets the unkempt and mysterious but charming Pascal (Johnny Flynn) when he saves her from a drunk, handsy bloke she met at the pub.

The two immediately strike up a passionate relationship, one that Hilary tries unsuccessfully to put a stop to.

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Meanwhile, young women are going missing on the island and the shady looking Pascal, who has a criminal record, shoots straight to the top of the suspect list.

Moll eventually divulges one secret from her past that suggests the two love birds have more in common than they first thought and their violent tendencies could be the tie that binds them as soul mates.

On a surface level, Beast unfolds slowly but deliberately as a tension filled whodunnit thriller, with a sense of dread that rivals the recent Hereditary, as Moll goes back and forth about whether her new boyfriend can be trusted.

But it delves into some fascinating territory about the violent tendencies in human nature – how far is too far when expressing anger, and is it ok when violence is used to right a wrong?

Buckley heads a top notch cast, her performance one of much depth as she balances the several facets of the character: sweet, rebellious, shy, secretive and a lot of the time, a liar, all while harboring a secret.

The clever script by director Michael Pearce wades into psychological territory many of us are hesitant to face head on about ourselves, too afraid to acknowledge our own temperament, adding fascinating levels to an already sturdy thriller.

Watch the trailer here.

 

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