Silence. The credits begin to roll on the screen. A few seconds before, we witnessed how a tormented man was absorbed by the guilt caused by his daily actions, judged in the midst of a tremendous –and tremendous– attack of paranoia. Seconds ago we were part of an epic journey, and now we are alone with our thoughts. In the film Beau is scared, director Ari Aster does just that, confronting us with our worst nightmares, then leaving us in the darkness of the room with nothing but a light shining into our eyes. Without further ado, everything ends.
During the first seconds of that final space, the viewer might think that this is rudeness on the part of the filmmaker. How to leave the audience like this, without answers, without any consolation after what has just been seen? However, that overwhelming “nothing” is the film’s secret weapon. Silence allows us to think of all possible ways of ordering the events that have just been presented to us and, therefore, we are forced to remember and impatiently relive what we no longer wanted to know anything about. Because, yes, the trip tires us, but it is addictive to restart it over and over again in our memory.
The protagonist of this journey is Beau (Joaquin Phoenix/Armen Nahapetian), a person who, if it weren’t for his hypochondria, his hysteria and his inability to relate, would not stand out much in any environment. After going to his regular session with his therapist (Stephen McKinley Henderson), Beau returns home, gets some sleep, and the next day gets ready to visit his mom, Mona (Patti LuPone/Zoe Lister-Jones). , for his father’s death anniversary, but an awkward series of events, beginning with his keys being stolen, prevents him from making it on time.
Beau will take longer days than expected to arrive, because the journey began at home, but suddenly he finds himself with an extremely American and very unorthodox family who adopt him. He then is in the van of a drug-addicted teenager. Suddenly, he is surrounded by the cold forest and a totally crazed ex-soldier with PTSD is chasing him, shooting him left and right. We then see him as part of a traveling theater company whose play takes him through a rather twisted version of his existence, in a sequence rendered with pristine, colorful animation (great work by Cristobal León and Joaquín Cociña). The tour begins as a satire on the criminal and horror cinema of the 70s, to become, towards the middle, a very free and strange version of The Wizard of Oz (1939), if it was directed by David Lynch.
Movie review Beau is scared
The arrival of the main character at all these points is interrupted by constant cuts to black that create long gaps in the narrative. In addition, from time to time there are flashbacks to the protagonist’s youth, where he meets the enigmatic Elaine (Parker Posey/Julia Antonelli).
Seeing these cuts and inserts, you can’t help but think that this is life. When you least expect it, you close your eyes and sometimes you wake up to realize that you don’t remember anything. What a waste of time And that is so heartbreaking, so disappointing, that you just have to continue. Perhaps Lucian Johnston’s editing and Pawel Pogorzelski’s rebellious and suffocating photography are the elements that give the film meaning at times when it is completely lacking. At times, there is more form than substance.
Added to this is the solid performance of Joaquin Phoenix. Indulging in hysteria and anxiety, he makes the proposal a veritable collection of feelings and emotions. From anger to sadness, through restlessness.
Beau is scared It is a film that challenges the belief that every narrative has to teach a lesson to those who go to the movies. Perhaps, sometimes, what we need is to ask ourselves questions. Aster knows it well. So, idiosyncratic as he is, he leaves us guessing and throws us against the monster in the attic. When we are in the middle of a battle, we realize that not everything that happens to us has to mean something.
It is true that the project does not explore family relationships as hereditary (2018), his debut feature film, and opts for a more surreal, sensory, raw and disturbing angle, which is very similar to that of his short munchausen (2013). Even with this, the experience is satisfactory. Of course: if someone accompanies them to see it, it is likely that they need to prepare a list of apologies to offer after 3 hours of abstract epic that dries up the body and mind.
Jose Roberto Landaverde Movie buff and music lover. I am fascinated by writing, listening, reading and commenting on everything related to the seventh art. I’m a fan of Rocky and Back to the Future and obviously one day I’ll climb the “Philly Steps” and drive a DeLorean. Faithful believer that cinema is the best teleportation machine, and also that on the big screen we can all see ourselves represented. I constantly, like Scott Pilgrim, ask myself: “Does bread make you fat?”