Beast (2017) ***

April 23rd, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Michael Pearce | Cast: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Trystan Gravelle | UK | 107′ | Thriller

Two troubled souls are drawn together in this twisted and intriguingly intelligent psychological thriller debut from British TV director Michael Pearce.

On a Jersey beach during her birthday celebrations, Moll (Jessie Buckley) breaks away from the fraught family gathering drawn to a tousled-haired wayfarer Pascal ((Flynn) who is implicated in a series of murders rocking the island. Tour guide Moll is far from squeaky clean but her vulnerable, wide-eyed appeal provides a suspenseful counterpoint to Pascal’s sensitive knowingness; such a breath of fresh air compared to her boring police officer boyfriend Cliff (Trystan Gravelle). Moll still lives at home with her dementia-ridden father and dominating martyr of a mother Hilary, a feisty Geraldine James, who is holding everything together – including the church choir – while clearly favouriting supercilious brother Harrison (Oliver Maltman). To add insult to injury, sister Polly (Shannon Tarbet) has just announced her twin pregnancy on Moll’s special day. Clearly there is more to Moll than meets the eye, but Pearce keeps us guessing about her dark secret which is cleverly reflected through her family’s harsh and controlling attitude towards her. There is also something gently sinister about the prickly Pascal who prowls around with a hunting rifle while the two grow closer complicit in their shared orbit of shadowy darkness; Moll’s unhappiness piqued by the sense of danger and romantic thrill that gradually comes to a head in the final beachside denouement. BEAST is a subtle thriller that skates around the edges of melodrama and horror primped by Benjamin Kracun’s luminous images and superbly nuanced performances from Geraldine James, Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn as the tense lead trio. MT





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