Review: Beau Is Scared With Joaquin Phoenix Is A Cinematic Journey As Idiotic And Downright Fascinating | movie reviews
reviewIt’s barely half the year, but Beau is scared is already the craziest movie of 2023. This three-hour odyssey starring Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix (jester, Gladiator) in the title role, feels like a walk through the nervous system of a hypochondriac with an Oedipus complex. It offers a viewing experience that is as frustrating as it is downright fascinating.
Why did director Ari Aster have to wait over a decade for a bag of money to make this passion project? They thought it was too strange”, said the American who first had to deliver two other productions to Beau is scared got the green light. Those were definitely not throwaway movies. stronger, with Hereditary (since 2018 with Toni Collette) and Midsummer (2019 with Florence Pugh) Aster gave us two of the most moving horror titles of this century so far.
With hindsight, they also turn out to be ‘just’ finger exercises for what I really wanted to do: an almost psychoanalytic journey about a paranoid man, Beau Wasserman, who travels back to his hometown to attend his mother’s funeral. Be warned, that’s just the cornerstone of a movie that demands a lot (and perhaps too much) of its audience’s empathy. It is not only an exhausting and sometimes scary journey, but also a lot of fun. As long as you like black humor.
Beau isn’t just constantly afraid of everything. The joke is: that turns out to be correct. To attend the funeral, she has to take a plane at an unchristian hour. However, he falls asleep, because the neighbor above him was angry at his door all night complaining about the noise pollution, while Beau didn’t make an ounce of noise.
The stress that all this causes him makes him look for a box of newly prescribed pills. But what if the psychiatrist clearly says it’s only to be taken with water and the faucet only produces brown sludge? He then gets himself a bottle of water at the local supermarket. But for that he must first cross the dreaded street and it is full of scum. There’s even a corpse rotting somewhere. After a car accident, he wakes up in a completely strange house whose residents are crazier than they first appear.
Beau (a peerless Joaquin Phoenix in a constant state of panic) isn’t even halfway through his journey after all this. And the film has not even reached half of its full length. The further the schlemiel goes, the more absurd the situations it ends up in. Much misery befalls him. Are we literally inside his head? During a conversation with the wayward Ari Aster, after many long silences, he finally reveals something about the meaning of the film about him. “He’s a bit Jewish Lord of the Rings!”
A little later: “This is a trauma, but one that Beau evoked in himself.” And another silence further on: “I already regret having said this. Shit, if only he could reverse that. This is going to give me a headache. Everything I say is unfavorable for the film. The viewer has to find out for himself. More than ever I operate with intuition and something like this cannot be expressed in words. So these interviews don’t really make sense. I’m sorry”, it sounds without irony.
Beau is scared is what you get when an acclaimed director White card you can do what you want without the interference of a producer or movie studio. Anyone who embraces all of the craziness (the title character walking at a certain point is a fantasy play on himself that serves us partly in animation form), sees something unique. And Beau’s self-inflicted fears (also about sex and his mother) and guilt (towards the outside world where everyone always seems to know better) are also recognizable in all its exaggeration.
You leave the room confused. Only to find that even weeks into this bizarre journey, you can’t get the movie out of your head.
Director: Ari Aster. Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan and Patti LuPone
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