The dark side of femininity and female anti-heroes have been on our screen since the conception of cinema. From All About Eve and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? to Gone Girl and Raw (by way Carrie and Misery,) there have been movies that have explored the broiling malevolence under “pristine” skin. There’s a greater exploration happening of the broken, the crooked, and the maladjusted, particularly in women, and it’s great to see these complex characters electrify the screen.
In Beast, these sentiments are explored by Jessie Buckley, whose towering and beguiling performance makes the film a must-see.
The directorial debut by Michael Pearce revolves around Moll who feels suffocated by her life. There’s a wedge between her and her whole family, including her domineering mother. After a disastrous party, she wonders to an all-night beach party and winds up being saved by rogue Islander Pascal. Instantaneously, she is drawn to him, much to the chagrin of her family. As she falls deeply in love with him, police start to suspect him as a serial killer. With the case looming over both of them, how far will Moll go for Pascal?
Aforementioned is the utterly compelling work here by Buckley who is so intensely brilliant in her role as Moll. Beginning as this battered child, largely boxed in by her clean and classest family, she begins to unravel with the new presence of Pascal and a darker side of her emerges. Buckley is stellar at digging her fingernails into Molls soil and shifting through the isolation to get to her roots. The subtleties in her performance are phenomenal to watch as she master the character with such confidence. This is an actress on the rise, expect more bewitching performances from her.
Johnny Flynn as Pascal makes an interesting companion to Buckley. The minute they are on screen, you can sense the tension and the chemistry. It crashes like waves upon the shore. Flynn’s task is to bemuse her and bewilder us. His shifting power play as you flit between guilt and innocent sets foundations for a story that is always turning, your attention continuously on the winds. Pascal has anger and rage simmering just below the surface and Flynn keeps just enough back for us to trust us. It’s lucky to have the pair as drivers for this journey (like, literally,) and their passion sparks.
Michael Pearce’s lens captures the loneliness of island living, especially with the over-baring community who know every gritty secret – or tries to know. As the story weaves through the roads, the twists are palpable and every second is yet another juicy bite of character and script. There’s also a brilliant use of visuals with the mud and dirt becoming synonymous with Moll’s transformation.
Beast is a repeat viewing film as you untangle to web of Moll’s becoming.
Beast is out 27th April!