A Beastly Good Movie At The Tower

By Betu Herrera Case

Turbulent ocean waves open the new British film “Beast,” where uneasiness and mistrust prevail throughout the outstanding, twisting and turning story, written by first time director Michael Pearce.

At times violent but always gripping, we watch the who-done-it murder mystery with our breath held in until the final unexpected shot.

 

On the small island community of Jersey, where everyone knows your business, we meet Molly (Jessie Buckley) the sad, dutiful, red headed, twenty-something daughter of a dominant and cruel mother.

Molly is still unhappily living at home -- she sings in the choir and guides tourists on a bus around the island -- but longs for something new and exciting.

At her backyard birthday party, a handsome policeman – presumably a childhood friend -- gives her the present of an old badge. Uninterested, she mingles among family and friends when she is upstaged by her beautiful sister who announces that she is pregnant with twins.

The call for champagne to celebrate her sister’s happy news causes Molly to run unhappily into the house, headed for the vodka. She violently breaks the glass in her hand, watching the blood drip, and we understand this is her secret way to feel something, anything.

Molly leaves her own party headed for the bar in town where she drunkenly dances and kisses a local man. The two head for the beach, but Molly soon realizes he only wants a quick hook up. She resists his drunken advances, struggling to get away, when suddenly a hero steps in to save her.

The hero is Pascal (Johnny Flynn), a local illegal poacher who is handsome but has matted, dirty hair and no social skills or manners. He is an irresistible scoundrel to Molly -- her catnip. Pascal asks Molly if she can keep a secret and if so he is ok, foreshadowing a future need for loyalty.

Molly’s mother doesn’t approve and warns Pascal to be careful, as Molly is a wild one -- the first hint at Molly’s secrets. The two begin a love affair and eventually move in together. Ocean swims and young love are interrupted, however, when several brutal murders lead to Pascal being arrested.

Molly’s hero is now an accused murderer, and she is also questioned but stands by her man at her peril after being ostracized by her family and community. Did he do it? Can Molly trust her lover?

We, the audience, go back and forth analyzing Pascal’s guilt or innocence as the drama unfolds and the evidence builds. Both lead actors are mesmerizing, especially Buckley in a breakout performance. We do empathize with her tortured soul as she longs for a real life. Some sex scenes are racy but not overly so.

Director Pearce does a great job creating doubt around every bend. A true talent, I’m looking forward to his future work, as he will surely be offered bigger films after “Beast.”

The superb score by composer Jim Williams slowly increases the tension, creating haunting moments of despair and hope. Throughout the movie, I felt trapped alongside Molly. Her blind loyalty and love could equal happiness and freedom, but you are never sure if that was her true intention all along.

“Beast” opened on June 1, 2018 at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre. For more information, visit https://www.readingcinemasus.com/tower.

Betu Case is a freelance writer and film junkie who lives in Corvallis, OR. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

 

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