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Movie Review – Beau Is Afraid

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I’m not sure what to make of this movie. But I have a review to write, so I’ll do my best.

First of all, you don’t need to see this three-hour movie in a theater. It will be just as enjoyable streaming at home in a month or so.


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The best thing I can say about it is Joaquin Phoenix—as Beau—was masterful—as expected. If memory serves, every scene is viewed from Beau’s point of view. And it’s an unreliable point of view since we know he’s medicated and not quite in touch with reality. Actually, not quite in touch with reality is a euphemism for the dude is bat-shit crazy. For instance, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t actually adopted by Grace and Roger. He was in a mental institution. Right? That’s the only thing that made sense to me.

This movie is loooooong. And it isn’t one of those long movies that go by fast either. It’s a three-hour slog. I honestly felt toward the end of the movie that Joaquin Phoenix must be exhausted from performing so many emotional scenes. As I mentioned, he is in every single scene of a three-hour movie. No wonder he only does one movie every few years.

Earning a paycheck

While I’m at it, I want to heap a little more praise on Joaquin for his choice of roles. I don’t recall him ever playing a character in a movie that was easy to perform. It seems that many A-list actors take an occasional minor role in a movie where they show up as a character for a few trailer-worthy scenes that only take a few days on set to film. They take their paycheck and go home. I can’t say I’ve seen Joaquin in a role like that. He earns his paycheck for every role, and then some.

Why So Long?

I don’t feel this movie needed to be so long. I’m sure 40-60 minutes could be edited out and it would have been just as coherent. Or maybe I’m wrong. For as long as this movie is I still had difficulty finding good Peetimes. Fortunately, there were a few long extended sequences that worked as Peetimes. But only a few. For the most part, it’s one crazy scene after another that defies any concise synopsis.

What was the ending?

If you see this movie, I’d really appreciate it if you come back and explain the ending to me in the comments below. Because I don’t have a clue what the boat exploding means. Or for that matter, why was he in a boat in the middle of a stadium of people on trial? Is this supposed to be some symmetry with the beginning of the movie when he’s born?

Why such a low grade?

I really hate giving this movie such a low grade of a C-. I apologize if I’m just missing the point, but for my money, the story was just a jumbled mess. (That can be said of most A24 productions.) I love the mission that A24 has: to provide more indie creators with opportunities. But in my experience, A24 is all too often just predictably weird and not in a good way. Take Wes Anderson’s movies as an example. They’re weird for sure, but they have a point and tell a story. I feel like too many of A24’s movies conflate confusion with artistry.

The one huge success that A24 had was Everything, Everywhere, all at Once. As multidimensional weird as that movie was, it had a plot I could follow, characters that were understandable, and relationships that evolved. I felt like I understood something more about the human experience after watching that movie. With Beau is Afraid all I could think of when I left the theater was, thankfully my mother wasn’t a monster. 

Aside: I briefly discussed this movie’s plot with my mother this morning and admitted to her that I’m sure I’ve traumatized her more than she’s traumatized me. 🙂

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: The movie just ended. I’ve added one good Peetime now. I’ll add more as soon as I get home.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Beau Is Afraid.

Rated: (R) Graphic Nudity | Drug Use | Language | Sexual Content | Strong Violent Content
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Horror
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan
Director: Ari Aster
Writer(s): Ari Aster
Language: English
Country: Canada, Finland, United States

Plot
Following the sudden death of his mother, a mild-mannered but anxiety-ridden man confronts his darkest fears as he embarks on an epic, Kafkaesque odyssey back home.

[category movie review,Comedy, Drama, Horror][status draft] [tags movie review,Comedy, Drama, Horror]
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  • Marc

    Ending: the dome was a view inside his mind – the two sides of his POV of self are at war. Mom and her bully minion are louder than the quiet positive, self-supported voice (who doesn’t even have a mic). These voices overpower, overwhelm and win. Beau is indeed a pathetic, unworthy human being. His only chance of being free of these voices is to destroy himself / self-combust. All is finally quiet.

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