‘Beau is Afraid’ Review: A Grand Neurotic Surreal Odyssey
Beau is Afraid is Ari Aster’s latest in what I like to call the mommy issues trilogy. In all seriousness, Ari Aster has delivered yet again a film I believe will be talked about for some time. Beau is also going to be his most divisive movie just from what I picked up leaving the theater. The film follows Beau a man filled with paranoia who can’t seem to get his life together. The film starts just as he is about to go see his mother in what ultimately becomes a surreal odyssey.
Beau is Afraid is not afraid to get trippy quick, as the film doesn’t ever feel grounded in reality. You have a hyper surreal world that echoes a lot of our world. There are advertisements everywhere, unsafe situations all around, and it seems everyone wants to hurt you as Beau navigates throughout the streets. Some of the best parts of Beau is Afraid were when you became engulfed in the backgrounds. Once we see Beau embark on his journey is when the film completely goes off the rails in the best way possible. This is all accented well with Joaquin’s stellar performance as the neurotic Beau who just can’t seem to get things right.
I also enjoyed the rest of the cast who pop up throughout the film in episodic moments. One thing about the movie is it does feel at times like a tv show. You watch Beau find himself in the most peculiar of situations and wonder how he even gets out of this. Of course, you eventually see him go to the next as the camera cuts to black which gives the episodic feel. This might be a hit or miss for some, but I definitely liked it. The supporting cast as well delivered, with some great performances from Nathan Lane and Amy Ryan. However, Patti LuPone definitely steals the spotlight. Patti is in the movie for a shorter time than the rest of her co-stars but delivers an impactful performance.
The film asks you to trust Aster with a lengthy run time that can be felt halfway its second act. I can definitely see how it can put people off especially compared to the much stronger first and third acts. This is what I think might be the film’s biggest problem is its pacing for its three-hour run time. The silver lining of course being Joaquin who from start, really carries it home with his grand performance as Beau. Overall, I enjoyed Beau is Afraid and think Ari is three for three when it comes to his feature length films. If I were to rate his films, Beau is Afraid would come in at number 2 just under Hereditary but definitely over Midsommar. Ari definitely has all the creative freedom and for that you have to give him credit for going all the way with it.
We give Beau is Afraid 4/5 stars for its strong acting performances from the whole cast but also the vivid surreal world it builds.