Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan, Kylie Rogers, Parker Posey, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Hayley Squires, Michael Gandolfini
Writer/Director: Ari Aster
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror
Release Date: May 19th
Beau Wassermann is a mild-mannered middle aged man suffering from paranoia and anxiety. When a family tragedy occurs, he must embark on a journey were he must face his darkest fears through the unknown.
Beau is Afraid is Ari Aster’s third feature length film coming on the back of his two other highly successful movies Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019). So with an already positive record, it would naturally make sense that production company A24 would give Aster more control for a more creative and imaginative approach in his latest instalment. Ari visually spills his mind on his understanding and representation of mental health, Family and Society to such an extreme length that it becomes lost when trying to piece this movie and its core meaning together. When we first meet Beau (Joaquin Phoenix) in his therapist’s office, it is clear to see that he is suffering with extreme anxiety and is living in constant fear and paranoia of his surroundings and with anyone that is associated with his life, including his own mother. The movie title is a true and adapt explanation of his emotions Beau is Afraid and it could not be more accurate, throughout the film we see him being afraid about leaving his house to go to the grocery store and even when he is contemplating on answering a phone call from his mother. We as an audience from the start are on Beau’s side and connect with him as having a gentle persona. The opening hour of this movie clearly displays society’s perception of mental health through our main character’s (Beau) point of view. The movie after the first 60 minutes spirals and interjects into so many different themes and ideologies all at once, that it is tiring to absorb.
The Movie constantly jumps back and forward from Beau’s Adult Life to his Youth and also to the opening scene of his birth. I felt tangled up in all of the details that I needed to know when trying to piece his story and his demeanour together. I do like a movie where you are not spoon fed the information, and that as the audience we are left to think about the meaning as the credits roll. But I felt derailed, there are definitely elements of a Toxic Mother and Son relationship which are so obscurely presented, it will make you feel so embarrassed to be sharing a cinema screen with strangers. In particular a certain sex scene and a trip to the attic come to mind. But, one thing is for certain and that this movie is completely open to interpretation. There is something for everyone in this film, but also I can see a lot of people disliking the concept and the absolute chaos and craziness associated with it.
The film I feel will go down as a masterpiece to a certain audience, but only from the lens of it being casted so flawlessly. Joaquin Phoenix gives an outstanding performance and is so good when expressing all of the different emotions that is needed when he is faced with complex situations. Ari Aster is constantly playing tricks with our minds as to what we need to understand. Which is quiet clever because that is what our main character is experiencing, when trying to comprehend meaning in his own mind. The film attempts to be so different and unique from anything else that it becomes so outlandish and leaves us scratching our heads in puzzlement.