© LEONINE Distribution GmbH

Beau Is Afraid
U.S.A./U.K./Finland 2023

Opening 11 May 2023

Directed by: Ari Aster
Writing credits: Ari Aster
Principal actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan, Nathan Lane, Kylie Rogers

Beau Wasserman (Joaquin Phoenix) lives in his apartment alone, coping with problems. In the first five minutes of the film, he loses his suitcase and house key. The neighbors complain that he is too loud: not true. Soon his apartment is crowded with wild people entering from his crazy street. The bathtub overflows. Can it get any worse? These physical problems are soon replaced by intellectual anxieties, which he discusses with his therapist. He plans to see his mother, Mona, with whom he has been phoning. He will go on the anniversary of his father’s death, but then he learns that his mother has also died. A chandelier fell on her head. He returns to his childhood home and ends up staying with Grace and Roger. They support another man, crazy Jeeves, who lives in a camper outside their front door. Their daughter Toni complains that Beau has taken over her bedroom. Difficult to imagine, but more problems occur: blackouts, corpses, even negation of all facts, establishing a contrary truth. We last see Beau in a small boat on a lake that happens to be in the middle of a football stadium full of spectators.

Director Ari Aster said, “Every detail has a detail inside of it.” He gives us “the experience of being a loser” and takes us “through a life or even a person.” But it’s much more complicated, which inspires me to see the film a few more times, perhaps line up all the details in some kind of sequence – or not. There are flashbacks of Beau as a young boy (played by Armen Nahapetian) and his friend Elaine (Parker Posey); otherwise, we experience about 17 years of his life until old age. All sorts of water – drinking and bathing water, a stream, a lake – play a role. The forest is available for individuals seeking an escape or even adult orphans practicing for a drama.

See the film to enjoy the exceptional talents of actor Joaquin Phoenix as Beau. Perhaps you can arrange the details in some kind of understandable order, or just accept the conflicting events as they fall. Filmed in Montreal, Canada, in English, although I was happy to have German subtitles, because sometimes the English was a bit inaudible. (Becky Tan)

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