BEAST (107 R)
A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.
Director: Michael Pearce
Writer: Michael Pearce
Stars: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James
Closed Captioning and Descriptive Narration Available
“Moll’s a wild one,” someone remarks early in “Beast,” Michael Pearce’s thrilling, unsettling debut feature. With her electric twist of Titian curls and dark, secretive gaze, Moll (a riveting Jessie Buckley) has the look of a volcano that’s primed to erupt.
A preview of the film.Published OnApril 30, 2018
Stirring murder mystery, love story and psychodrama into a mesmerizing slurry, Mr. Pearce turns his native island of Jersey into a sunlit trap where Moll chafes against her domineering mother (an icy Geraldine James) and conservative community. A nasty incident with scissors haunts her past and suggests her mother might have cause to exert control; and when she meets Pascal (Johnny Flynn, perfect), an insinuatingly handsome poacher, she cleaves to him as one would a kindred spirit.
Aided and abetted by Benjamin Kracun’s alluringly sensual cinematography, Mr. Pearce has created a feverish fairy tale riven with dark horrors and forbidden desires. Young women are being raped and murdered, and as suspicion circles Pascal, Moll’s behavior is disturbingly unreadable. Does she truly believe he is innocent, or is she drawn to the possibility that he is not?
Bathed in a shadowy beauty and slippery psychological atmosphere, “Beast” soars on Ms. Buckley’s increasingly animalistic performance. At one point, Moll settles into the hole where a body has been found, filling her mouth with damp earth. Later, she lounges, filthy, on her mother’s pristine sofa, her nails streaking defiantly muddy trails on the white cloth. This is lurid stuff, yet Mr. Pearce miraculously holds things together until the end — even when his heroine fails to do the same.
-Jeanette Catsoulis, NY TIMES