Tuesday, October 10, 2023


Okay. I'm going to say something a little schematic about French cinema. But if we imagine two lines, we can say there is [Jean] Renoir and [Robert] Bresson that gave us [Francois] Truffaut and [Jean-Luc] Godard, that gave us [Maurice] Pialat and [Jean] Eustache, that gave us [Arnaud] Desplechin and [Leos] Carax. I fall more on the Bresson/Godard/Eustache/Carax side than the other one - Bertrand Bonello, cineaste.com

That quote above is an important passage to remember before going in to Bertrand Bonello’s latest sci-fi tale because there are a lot of Leos Carax-isms throughout (beautiful-looking comedic absurdity masked underneath a layer of arthouse cinema). The Beast comes off like a cross between Holy Motors and Highlander with a pinch of Maya Deren’s Meshes Of The Afternoon told from the perspective of an incel. I can namedrop folks like Deren & Carax without giving any background because chances are anyone looking forward to The Beast will already be familiar with Bonello's work and his influences. This is not the kind of movie that you just blindly watch. Now...I know my description of this movie sounds like a fun little “gumbo” of influences & ideas, but at the end of the day it doesn’t work. That’s what’s so frustrating. To have so much in common with so many fun cinematic reference-points to be a big nothing almost takes extra effort to accomplish. I’m a Bertrand Bonello fan/occasional defender but I can’t defend this one. The Beast is very much a mixture of all the things I just mentioned but it’s kind of a mess as opposed to a well-crafted collage of ideas. I really don’t know who this was made for outside of bored disingenuous letterboxed "critics" that love to go against the grain and claim that bad movies are really misunderstood masterpieces. 

The Beast felt like two feature lengths films and a short mushed together in to one movie (in a way, this was Bonello’s She Hate Me). The film follows two lovers that cross paths with one another through different time periods. Bertrand Bonello takes the audience back & forth between the early 1900s and a post-Covid mask-wearing dystopian future with a pitstop in to modern day California.

The California section of the film, which owes a lot to Maya Deren’s Meshes and David Lynch’s Lost Highway, is the only interesting part of the movie but still not enough to stop me from checking my watch every 10-15 minutes (it should also be noted that this is Bertrand’s second feature in a row to borrow heavily from Maya Deren. Read my thoughts on Zombi Child here).

Meshes Of The Afternoon / The Beast

Meshes Of The Afternoon / The Beast

The Beast vision board: 

Earlier this year there was some press about The Beast being rejected from the Cannes film festival and now that I’ve seen it I kind of understand why. Movies don’t need to have a complete thought, a "satisfying" ending, or a set of rules to follow but I think The Beast would have benefited from a bit more structure. Somewhere within the 140+ minutes that is The Beast is a 72 minute feature that could have possibly worked. I’ve made this criticism before and I’ll do it again here - this movie is the equivalent of “showing your work” on a math test without getting to an actual answer.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...