Beau Is Afraid: where normalcy waves its white flag? (Mark Kermode film review).
SFcrowsnest readers, we’re here to announce the birth of a new cinematic genre: surrealistic tragicomedy horror. Yes, you heard it right. The brainchild of Ari Aster, the eccentric filmmaker who probably takes pleasure in your nightmares, ‘Beau Is Afraid’ plunges headfirst into the rabbit hole of absurdity. Jump right in with the above film review video by our man of many movies, Mark Kermode.
Joaquin Phoenix, our favorite Joker, takes a sabbatical from clowning around Gotham City and embodies Beau Wasserman, a mild-mannered chap with an overstock of paranoia. As if being the son of a wealthy businesswoman who claims your father died during an orgasm (and oh yes, that was when Beau was conceived) isn’t enough to push him into the lap of a therapist, Beau finds himself on a surreal journey just to attend his mother’s funeral.
The cherry on this weird sundae is an eccentric ensemble cast, which includes Patti LuPone, Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan, and others, who put the ‘fun’ in this dysfunctional fiasco. The plot, if we dare to call it that, tiptoes around Beau’s escapades as he confronts his fears, ranging from psychotic homeless people to a lurking intruder in his bathroom, and eventually getting hit by a food truck. You’d think that’s the pinnacle of peculiarity, but hold onto your hats because Beau’s roller-coaster ride of calamity is just getting started.
The A24 film debuted at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema with a Q&A featuring Emma Stone and Ari Aster, because why not? The film was originally slated to premier as a director’s cut of Aster’s Midsommar (2019), but like an elaborate April Fools’ Day prank, audiences were instead greeted by the absurdist humor and horror of ‘Beau Is Afraid.’
Despite the film’s chaotic plot and exorbitantly absurd situations, ‘Beau Is Afraid’ was received warmly by critics who praised Aster’s audacious direction and Phoenix’s immersive performance. If nothing else, ‘Beau Is Afraid’ has managed to redefine cinematic norms, reminding us that there’s always room for something completely off-the-wall.