Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Jessie Buckley as Moll
Johnny Flynn as Pascal Renouf
Emily Taaffe as Tamara
Geraldine James as Hilary Huntingdon
Director: Michael Pearce
In a small island community, a troubled young woman (Jessie Buckley) falls for a mysterious outsider (Johnny Flynn), who empowers her to escape her oppressive family. When he comes under suspicion for a series of murders, she defends him at all costs.
Beast is a movie that had sort of flown under the radar. I went into the movie fairly blind, I just knew that it was a thriller that was well received and that Jessie Buckley was great in the lead role. It is quite good and well worth the watch.
It is worth going into Beast relatively blind so that you are surprised by the twists and turns. The movie is a psychological thriller that is dark and unsettling throughout. It is a slow burn for sure, but it is greatly helped by some interesting characters and a nice plot set up. The first half is great and starts off well. Although for a while it doesn’t seem very plot driven, the focus is on the main two characters and their chemistry helped keep the movie engaging and interesting. In the second half, it’s still good but some parts of the pacing could get a little slow and I’m not entirely sold on how it ended. As a psychological thriller Beast often treads familiar ground and isn’t anything too unique within the genre, but there’s such an emotional punch underscoring the drama that’s really effective. There are themes of family oppression and class present throughout, and the movie is also an examination of toxicity. Jessie Buckley’s complicated character of Moll is absorbing and the director placing somebody like her at the centre of the film made the narrative more interesting. Without getting into it too much, it is very clear that the protagonist has issues. The movie definitely hints at parental abuse, but it’s left to the audience whether her issues were caused by an abusive childhood or whether they are just a part of her. The ambiguity with the plot and especially the main character made things more interesting. I liked how the film handled Moll’s psychological and moral descent, it doesn’t play out like a traditional downward spiral. It’s constantly questionable what she is going to do, and even if the plot becomes predictable in one area, it manages becomes unpredictable in another. Suspense is well built throughout the film, with some anxiety inducing and uncomfortable moments which only raises the tension, and it’s quite subtle about it too. At an hour and 46 minutes long it kept my interest generally, outside of some moments in the second half.
The acting is great, mainly being the leads in Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn, who are convincing as young lovers. Between the two however, it’s Jessie Buckley who shines the most. This is her first film appearance and she was spectacular. As Moll, she was a complicated and absorbing character to watch and conveys her character incredibly well. The rest of the acting is great too, including Moll’s mother played by Geraldine James. However this is really Jessie Buckley’s movie.
This movie is directed by Michael Pearce, and his work is quite good here, I’d like to see more movies from him. This film is beautifully shot, and really sets you at The British Isle of Jersey, and this ends up being a good location for this story. There are some anxiety filled scenes with the way some moments are shot and edited, and the score contributed to this so well.
Beast is a solid psychological thriller. The acting is great, it’s directed well, and I was invested throughout. I do think that it’s overlooked and deserves a lot more attention. There are some aspects that aren’t as great and could’ve improved, especially towards the second half of the movie. With that said, Jessie Buckley’s excellent performance alone makes it worth watching.