Beau is Afraid


No, seriously, what did I just watch?

Ari Aster, director of such mind-bending horror films as Hereditary and Midsommar, takes mind-bending to a whole new level of insanity in the new, three-hour film Beau is Afraid, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

I’m not sure how to review this. Literally, two hours since I walked out of the theater and I still have not been able to formulate my complete thoughts about what I saw. It felt like scenes from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, but viewed through the kaleidoscope of a David Lynch movie (or the weirdest parts of Twin Peaks) all with the uncertain POV of a nightmare. I know that all of those things sound like something that I would love, but when they are all tossed together, I just am not sure how to process.

Without a doubt, Joaquin Phoenix is amazing as Beau Wassermann. He is as confused and unbalanced as we are as audience members. Phoenix absolutely goes for it all in this movie.

How to describe the plot? I am not sure I can. IMDB describes it as “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.” That is probably as best as it could be described.

There was so much going on in every frame of this film that I do not know if anyone could figure it all out. Then, there are some images that defy explanation or comprehension. I do not think I will ever be able to forget the image of Beau going into the attic and what he finds in there. No spoilers but HOLY CRAP.

What is real? What is imaginary? What is delusion? I have no idea.

It is three hours long, but, to be fair, I was engaged enough that it did not feel long to me. However, sitting through the credits was a somber and empty feeling. And my entire theater was dead silent and no one left until they stopped playing.

I’m just not sure what to do about a recommendation. I mean, I am not unhappy that I went to the movie, and I was not angered by the film, by any stretch. However, it has been a long while now that I have left a theater feeling as hollow as I did at the end of this film. Was it in a good way? I don’t know. It certainly elicited emotions from me, but were they the type of emotions that are effective?

In the end, I am going to pull a real cheat on this one. I have no idea if this is a movie that I would recommend. I do not think that I ever want to see it again, but there have been great films that fell into that category too. I guess the only way I am going to put this is, you need to go and decide for yourself. It is absolutely a HUGE swing and it is a movie the type of which I have never seen before. However, I am not sure if that HUGE swing was a swing-and-miss.

So my score is a big time cheat. Sorry. Got to do it for the first time ever, my star rating is…


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