Director: Michael Pearce
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James .UK. 1h 46m
Director Michael Pearce has constructed a commanding movie with a complex layered story, this deeply psychological drama/thriller is a shouldering beauty with lots of eerie undertones. The films flaming lead Jessie Buckley gives an excellent lead performance who’s beauty gives the film a touch of piercing clarity, as Pearce builds mystery with intense fascination, often revealing big scenes with fine balance as he grips the viewers attention with climatic stages.
Set in Jersey while a serial killer has murdered several young girls, the village tries to solder o while there’s a giant elephant in the room. In among the normies is Moll (Buckley) a 27 year old who’s a deeply unhappy woman and put upon daughter by an extremely domineering mother (James) she lives out her days under the total control of her mother and carrying out a soulless job as a tour guide. There is a reason for the watchful eye of Moll, she has a dark secret that manifested in her past school girl days, and in turn she’s still basically treated as a child while her siblings are on their own pedestals. Her sister manages to upstage her at her own birthday party while announcing her pregnancy, Moll, having enough of the family antics storms out abandoning her family and Cliff, a stuffy young police officer who wanted to make Moll his new girlfriend. Into the night she runs and joins another party, meeting the mysterious and alluring Pascal (Flynn).
The tanned gorgeous wild man, is at the top of the local list of assumed suspects for the killings, and due to his lifestyle he has a opportunity, but Moll is already deeply in love with him, she becomes his biggest protector, but there’s something dark about Pascal, there’s something equally dark about Moll, and it could be this edge which keeps them together.
Pearce is great at showing little touches and hints of guilt, the movie switches between romantic drama to forensic thriller, the relationship between the two young loves shifts into something with a huge edge of danger. Moll makes a lot of odd decisions, she seems to have an self destruct button that she keeps pressing and it makes it hard for the audience to know if Moll is our hero or not.
The movie comes to a head with a final conversation at a beach side restaurant, it’s exhilarating and clever yet again we have to decide on where our sympathies lie and it’s only a doorway into something earth shattering.
Beast is a movie which can’t boast to be highly horrific, or a deep melodrama, it’s all there swimming beneath the surface but it all comes packaged as a finely tuned movie with lots of subtle rivers of tension and energizing fun. I didn’t it intelligent and beautifully crafted by cinematographer Benjamin Kracun and fiercely directed by Pearce.
Related: Sleep has her house (2017), The Souvenir (2019)
Lists: A-Z of UK Movies Vol 1, Jersey Films, Amour Fou,