You know when you’ve spent a couple of hours writing something and you’re pretty pleased with how it’s going and then your computer crashes and you lost the 800 or so words worth of work that you just spent your time on? Yeah, that happened when I was writing my review of Beast. I know, I should write in wordpress directly or at least some program with autosave but I like writing in notepad. It’s free of distractions and versatile when you wanna shift your thoughts around a blank page.
Anyway as y’all probably know there’s two ways you can proceed when you lose a shitload of work in an instant. Either you can go back at it straight away and try to recapture what came so naturally the first time and end up with a hollow imitation of writing that once contained vibrancy. Or you can say fuck it, wait a few days for the ideas that revealed themselves over the writing process to internalise and throw them down casually and messily because who wants to write the same thing twice?
In the past I’ve always gone for the former because it’s been like essays and things, you can’t really approch them casually if y’all care about your grade. Now is the time for option 2. I saw Beast on Saturday and it’s pretty fucking amazing.
It’s this psychological thriller about a series of murders on the isle of Jersey and the woman who has to deal with the fact that the man she’s dating, who swept her off her feet in his own way, is under suspicion by about everyone on the island, including the police, of committing the crimes.
It’s a film largely about abuse, between partners, between families, and between communities even who if not active in the act allow it to continue. Allow it to enter into their lives. Because abuse cannot be ignored. We like to think it can: it makes us feel nicer, it makes someone else’s unhappiness not our fault. But that’s largely bullshit, if it’s there, lingering on the edges we don’t ignore it. We just try to convince ourselves that it is deserved.
Y’all been at school once, y’all must have seen someone being bullied. If they didn’t deserve it then it would eat at you, you would be a bad person, no easier by far to blame. And heck, its way easier if there’s some benefit to it. If, like me, you were on the borderline of all that shit? Well, if someone else were getting it at least it weren’t you.
Moll is her name, and she’s being played by Jessie Buckley with all the mannerisms of the crushed. We see her early on in a series of constricting clothes, held prisoner in a very wide house which has the curtains constantly drawn. After being assigned to the drinks table at her own birthday and being ordered to fetch the champagne after the favoured sister uses the opportunity to announce her pregnancy she blows the joint for a night on the town.
Later, after all the clubs are closed and she’s eloped with some guy to the beachhead he starts getting handsy and Pascal (Johnny Flynn) armed with a rifle after a night of poaching turns up to ensure her safety. He has had his own troubles too, parents left or dead, having to fend from himself. It’s a lifestyle that did not particularly inure him to those inhabitants already predisposed against his native heritage.
Their performances are sublime, sure throughout, but before the psychodrama kicks in, when we’re looking at two abused people find solace. There’s a way it’s possible to melt into someone, like any room with them is ten degrees warmer (celcius, not farenheit). I’m sure if you’ve ever had some sorta crush you’ll know how it feels, but then imagine you have been living your life encased in ice, what would that warmth feel like then. Well it would feel like Jessie Buckley & Johnny Flynn act in this joint they’re superb.
I ain’t gonna go into any further into the plot except to say that at one point she wears the cutest goddman sweater in the world and I fucking want it. Actually his style is great too in a woodsmanlike sorta way but one gets the feeling that them fine-ass jackets are actually way too expensive. It’s sorta indicative of the main problem that the film got going on, it is always trying to be so extra.
There’s a scene here which stops for a power outage so that the staff can demonstrate their very formidable lighting work. There’s a number of montages that look beautiful but feel overlong and not quite as meaningful as they are intended to be. And yet, so much of this is embedded in the psychology of the joint, as a exploration of constriction and release, restraint and freedom. If you are truly inhabiting the psychology of these characters then when they let go you sorta must as well.
Allow their space and time, allow them their feelings. You know, what with work and all that bullshit I ain’t been able to go see independent filmmaking much. By which I mean, I haven’t prioritised it because I pay a subscription to go see blockbusters. If I had gone to the multiplex this week I’d have been treated to Sherlock Gnomes and I Feel Pretty. I am so glad that I didn’t.
Beast is currently screening in UK cinemas.
Images courtesy of Film4