There is little to look forward to these days, but a movie produced by A24 and directed by Ari Aster, I’m up for that. His newest movie, Beau is Afraid, is now on streaming and here is my review.
You probably know the name Ari Aster, he’s made two movies, Hereditary and Midsommar. Hereditary is a great horror movie, with some truly shocking moments and is very well-directed. I personally think Midsommar is the same, but I know it’s also very deep, pretentious even.
I’m going to say that I think Aster reminds me of Stanley Kubrick. The style, hidden subtext, visuals and story can be confusing. I know it’s a little pretentious to like Kubrick, but I do. Aster is one of those directors that has a style and can be confusing.
Beau is Afraid
The story is simple:
Following the sudden death of his mother, a mild-mannered but anxiety-ridden man confronts his darkest fears as he embarks on an epic, Kafkaesque odyssey back home.
I say simple, but it’s far more complicated than that. I’m not going to go through the entire story, since it would honestly take me days to write it out. The movie starts with Beau’s birth, literally, as he travels down the birth canal and emerges from his mother.
She seems panicked since he’s not breathing, but a smack on the arse seems to get the air in his lungs and he’s now ready to take on the world.
Cut forward to when Beau is older, now being played by Joaquin Phoenix. He is having his weekly therapy session and talking about his worried he is about the world and especially visiting his mother. Bea is paranoid and seems to fear everything.
He lives in a rundown part of his city, which makes Detroit look like Hawaii. Outside of his door, there are gun fights, smackheads and basically everything you would want to avoid in life. Beau is running home since he knows a local drug fiend will try and get him.
Beau is ready to get his plane to fly to see his mum, but his keys and luggage get stolen. He has new meds and has to take them with water. He pops one of the pills only to find the water has been shut off. Facing all his fears, he props open the main door to his building to buy some water.
Someone notices the open door and it seems the entire street goes into his building and into his room. Cutting a long story short, he ends up running naked out of the building and getting hit by a car. This is when things get weird.
This was all the opening act. The rest of the movie is about him being taken in by the people that hit him, Nathan Lane and Amy Ryan, their psychotic daughter, played by Kylie Rogers. And an ex-army guy who is suffering from PTSD and plans on killing Beau.
The journey he takes is epic, from the tree-hugging stage performers to meeting up with his dead mother. This is not your average movie. Then, it’s what you should expect from Aster.
I’m not spoiling the ending, but I also didn’t ‘get it’. I said he was like Kubrick and the end of Beau is Afraid is very much like the end of 2001. There is a meaning in there, but I didn’t get it. The annoying thing is though, I would watch it again since the journey Beau goes on is amazing.
The movie is about paranoia, it’s about a mother’s love, it’s about, umm, other stuff, which a dumb dumb like me just doesn’t understand. Saying that, I still liked this movie. The journey was so good.
The movie is 3 hours, but that didn’t really matter, I was so wrapped up in the characters. The first two acts are incredibly funny, dark, twisted, and thoughtful and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
Now that I have seen it, I’m not sure what I have seen. A friend at work told me she had heard about it, read some reviews and was still none the wiser. I’m in the same boat, it’s a great movie, but it’s just that ending. I will have a look at some YouTube videos about what the end was supposed to mean, which again, does annoy me, but I should have known it going in.
The cast is amazing. Phoenix is one hell of an actor and he’s so good as Beau. You believe his paranoia, you believe in his fears, and he is brilliant. I said about Aster being like Kubrick, one of the cast members is Bill Hader, usually known for his comic roles. Kubrick used to use people like Peter Sellars or Leonard Rossiter, again, both known as comedians.
There are other hidden things in the movie. I noticed that there are scenes with the sound of crickets in the background and some without them. Whether that means some of it is real and other parts aren’t? I don’t know.
You can place movies in two basic elements, a piece of art and a piece of entertainment. Fast X is pure entertainment with not much art. This is art, which is entertaining, but the focus is on the art of it.
Have you seen Beau is Afraid? What did you think? Overly pretentious or deep and meaningful?
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