A successful thriller is able to take its audiences on a ever-unfolding ride that keeps you guessing at every turn. While some releases in the genre take a fast and loud approach, others are able to build anticipation with the quiet development of its characters and their interactions. Written and directed by Michael Pierce, Beast is a character driven piece that successfully builds each part of its story, keeping you thoroughly intrigued throughout.
This film tells the tale of Moll, a young woman feeling the pressures of her stagnant life, as she meets a mysterious man who takes her on a journey filled with empowerment and danger. Jessie Buckley portrays the aforementioned lead, with Johnny Flynn as Pascal Renouf, the man mentioned before.
This is a movie rooted in psychology and built on the decisions of our protagonist. As we follow her through this tumultuous time of her life, we slowly develop her going forward while also uncovering a checkered past. Layered with moments that twist and turn the dark narrative, we begin to question the trustworthiness of Pascal as he enters her world. The dynamic of these two individuals progresses in a remarkable way as we discover elements that gain our trust and then make us question reality moments later.
While Moll is a well written character, it is the performance by Jessie Buckley that must be commended. She is a powerhouse in the role and allows for a vital foundation that supports each step of Moll’s progression. As one of the strongest features of this great character study, it is unfortunate that the weakest part of the film comes in the form of acting seen elsewhere.
For this movie to be entirely successful, it needed every element to operate in its most optimal way. Almost reaching this level of quality, the one factor that hinders it the most is the performance by Johnny Flynn. His role is extremely important to the narrative and the evolution of Moll. In fact, it shows just how well made this film is, in that it works really well despite what Flynn brings to the table. With more range and charisma, the actor in his role could have added much more to the relationship between him and Moll. As is, Flynn’s portrayal is not offensively bad in any way but simply bland. This is a negative that does not take much away but rather makes us consider the greater potential of his character.
On top of it all, this is a piece of cinema that is technically proficient in almost every way. The cinematography by Benjamin Kracun is beautifully done and integrates well with the more surreal moments of the movie. Furthermore, the direction by Michael Pierce is truly exceptional, especially for a first time director.
Beast is a picture that shows us the effectiveness of taking a character first approach with your story. Supported by a noteworthy script and star making performance of Jessie Buckley, there are only a few components that detract from it. Even so, these facets can be seen as small negatives in the grand scheme of this great film.