This movie came out of nowhere. I never got a single trailer for this in the cinemas. Only found out about it because I was looking up showtimes at movie theaters for the weekend and, plop, this one shows up.
The story looks like it’s about a young woman, sheltered, expected to be a certain way by her overbearing mother, and finds herself in a relationship with a young man who may or may not be the suspect of a series of murdered women.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Jessie Buckley (some stuff I’ve never heard of, and upcoming films JUDY  and THE VOYAGE OF DR. DOLITTLE ), Johnny Flynn (CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA , and the upcoming CORDELIA ), and Geraldine James (MEGAN LEAVEY  and STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Michael Pearce, making his feature film debut. Congrats, sir. Composing the score is Jim Williams, known for RAW (2016) and the upcoming ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE: STATIC CLING (2018). The cinematographer is Benjamin Kracun, known for a ton of short films, and upcoming films BEATS (2018) and MONSOON (2018). Finally, the editor is Maya Maffioli, known for a bunch of short films, and the upcoming TELL IT TO THE BEES (2018).
Overall, is this going to be this year’s messed up movie that will get me squirming happily in my seat? Because I don’t get enough of those and this looks like it just might be. But I can’t tell. For all I know, it’s just a dark romance story. Who knows? Either way, I’m pretty curious.
This is my honest opinion of: BEAST
Moll (Jessie Buckley) is a young woman doing her best to live her life with her family. She works as a historical guide, goes out drinking and dancing, isn’t afraid to hook up with guys that she doesn’t know, but still has love for her family. One day on her birthday, she finds herself particularly unhappy and decides to skip her own party for drinking and dancing. She meets a guy, but he advances on her too aggressively. Things don’t go further thanks to the interference of a gruff young man named Pascal (Johnny Flynn), carrying a rifle. Learning that he’s something of a bad boy, illegal poaching and what have you, the two find romance. But this doesn’t please her family one bit, especially her police officer brother Clifford (Trystan Gravelle), who knows about Pascal’s troubled past of illegal activities, including assaulting a minor girl, who was fourteen years old. This comes at an especially bad time as the small town is plagued by a series of four grizzly deaths of young girls who have been raped and murdered, and Pascal is one of the primary suspects.
Actually, I really like this. Pretty dark and chilling, and damn compelling.
The movie opens up pretty bleak with a creepy narration from Moll about orcas in captivity and how they go crazy and deaf, and then Moll in the next scene accidentally breaks a glass and squeezes the shards in her hands. Ouchies…
And that’s only a taste of how dark this movie gets.
I think it’s best to mention that this movie isn’t really about a young woman’s love for a supposed serial killer. Well, that’s a part of it, but that’s all a ton of build up to what I think the movie is really about: the backlash of being someone in a relationship with a supposed serial killer.
The first act is all about the build up to this concept, developing the relationship between Moll and Pascal, which all makes a little sense. Both are fairly unstable individuals. Pascal has a history of being violent toward women and illegal poaching, and she clenches glass in her hand, accidentally stabbed a girl in high school for bullying her, was beaten by her father as a teenager, claws at her own wounds, it’s not a stretch to see why these two are attracted to each other. She’s a conservative, closet party girl, and he’s a wild bad boy. Similarities, as well as differences. The perfect recipe for chemistry. It also helps that these are pretty solid actors. Buckley is a million flavors of adorable and Flynn certainly has that sexy, brooding, rugged loner thing down to an art, so I have no problem with believing what I’m seeing on screen.
I do appreciate the other imperfections in Moll. Like, she’ll mindlessly skip out on watching her niece, Jade (Hattie Gotobed), to spend time with Pascal, completely forgetting that there’s a murderer of young girls out there and leaving her all by herself. So I understood her mother’s outrage. There’s also another scene that I don’t a lot of non-golfers would understand, but I took a bit of gratification in one particular scene. Moll and Pascal are kicked out of a dinner engagement for causing a scene and in a fit of rage, Moll grabs a golf club and starts hacking away at a nearby putting green. If you’re a golfer, then you know how much of a bitch that would be to fix and how much money it would cost, but if you wanted to show a golf course how much you hated them, this would be a pretty fucked up thing to do because it also affects the golfers and their gameplay, and golfers can be just as hoity-toity as any athlete. Maybe even worse because it’s a bunch of entitled older “gentlemen.”
And then when the second act rolls around, Pascal gets arrested and the majority of this act is Moll getting hardcore ostracized as she struggles with her own personal demons and general hostility from everyone she comes in contact with, and you feel for this poor girl, who is just trying to get by without her family that she gave up for him. Not that you can really blame the townsfolk, as these murders are certainly a jolt of paranoia for their small town. Hard to say how anyone would react to this. No one’s a monster, no one’s an angel.
I suppose the closest thing to a gripe that I have is the last twenty minutes. I feel like the movie could have been wrapped up nicely when it was discovered that the actual killer was caught and Pascal was set free from the authorities and they’d live happily ever after. But we then have what appears to be a pretty random scene where they get hostile toward each other. She verbally eggs him on to hurt her, he actually does so, forgiveness all around, but then she admits that she didn’t hurt that girl in high school on accident, but rather out of revenge. She does this for total transparency if he murdered any of the previous three victims, to which he kind of admits to. But then on the car ride home, she forces the car into a collision, resulting in her killing him and she walks away. I’m not entirely sure why this was needed as it kind of just adds to the runtime. Having said that, as needless as it feels, it is executed very well. While Pascal’s admission of his murders is clear, it’s still pretty ambiguous if her “revenge” was the truth, or a ploy to get him to admit his own crimes and act on the possible affirmation with the car wreck.
I also kind of like how this foreshadowed earlier in a whacked-out dream sequence where her house is broken into by masked men who beat her. One of them attempts to strangle her to death, resulting her ripping off the mask of her attacker, revealing her own face. Pascal does mention that they’re “the same.” I thought there was a great amount of poetry there.
Overall, “warped fairy tale” is as perfect a description as this gets. I don’t really have a lot of negatives, and even as far as my one goes, it’s done very well, so I honestly can’t say that I have any real problems with this. All of the bad, or strange decisions that these characters make are backed up by their semi-subtle mental illnesses and they’re interwoven perfectly into the narrative. The lead actors are pretty damn good and have great chemistry, wonderful atmosphere that never leaves you with a sense of comfort, and is just an otherwise well done film. So as a recommendation, yeah, I say check this out. I’m not sure if it’s “movie of the year” quality, but it’s well worth your time and money. Basically, if you like your dark and disturbing romance flicks, then you’ll do fine. Dark, disturbing, messed up, and a damn good movie.
My honest rating for BEAST: a strong 4/5