Beast Movie Review
Nice guys finish last and serial killers finish first in Beast, a movie that isn’t nearly as interesting as it sounds. Though featuring a strong, nuanced performance by Jessie Buckley and calculating direction by Michael Pearce, the movie struggles to finds its way.
Buckley plays Moll, a young, depressed woman who is constantly fighting her inner demons. One morning, she meets Pascal (Johnny Flynn)--well, he walks up and fires a gun at the feet of another man who is getting a little too handsy with her--and her fate is sealed, despite the guy literally looking like a homeless serial killer and her well-to-do parents clearly seeing the bad in him.
In fairness, Pascal may not actually be the guy going around brutally murdering women, but all indicators are that he’s up to no good.
But of course Moll loves him anyway.
Beast works best as a drama, when Buckley is required to convey her conflicting emotions through nuanced expressions and slight actions. Pearce, who also wrote the movie, develops an interesting character in his protagonist, relying on his actress to present a mystifying persona who doesn’t seem to know what she wants. The mystery of her intentions, or what is wrong with her, or her motivations, are what drive the film.
Sadly, those same positive traits erode throughout the course of the film. Moll’s decisions become increasingly more baffling and obnoxious than anything else. Her character ends up being vapid and one-note, her elusiveness frustrating beyond belief. Her journey gives way to the more bullish yet shockingly bland story of this is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-killer plot, and ultimately Beast fails to convincingly satisfying.
Despite quality acting and a decent screenplay, Beast’s meandering focus and lack of commitment to the type of movie it wants to be will leave you wanting more.
This movie was screened at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF 2018).
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.