The Beast: Mark Kermode’s science fiction film review (video).

Our man of many movies, Mark Kermode, is here again to bring you his thoughts on the science fiction film, The Beast. You can watch Mark’s review above.

And what did we think? Read on. Oh, Bertrand Bonello, you’ve really done it this time. In “The Beast,” released in 2023, you’ve managed to turn a Henry James novella into a sci-fi romantic drama that has audiences scratching their heads and critics nodding in faux intellectual agreement. With Léa Seydoux and George MacKay headlining, what could possibly go wrong? Spoiler alert: quite a bit, but it’s all in the name of art, darling.

Set in the dystopian future of 2044, where artificial intelligence has declared humans emotionally unfit for any decent job, our heroine Gabrielle, played by Seydoux, decides to undergo DNA purification. Because, naturally, the best career move is to erase your emotions by reliving past lives. Enter Louis, portrayed by MacKay, who she meets on her purification journey. Their chemistry is as instant as it is ill-advised, propelling us into a whirlwind of poorly thought-out timelines.

The first past life whisks us away to 1910 France, where Gabrielle is an acclaimed pianist with a side hustle in doll manufacturing (because why not?). She rekindles an affair with Louis, but their passion ends predictably in disaster as they drown in a fire-flood at her doll factory. It’s a sequence that screams, “We have a CGI budget, and we’re not afraid to use it.”

Fast forward to 2014, and Gabrielle is now a model/actress while Louis is a socially awkward incel. This storyline tries to be edgy, reflecting on contemporary issues, but instead feels like Bonello watched too many true crime documentaries. The climax involves Louis breaking into Gabrielle’s house with a gun. It’s all very dramatic until you realize you’ve seen this plot before—probably on an after-school special about the dangers of internet culture.

The cherry on top of this cinematic sundae is the return to 2044, where Gabrielle learns that the purification process has failed. She’s part of the unlucky 0.7% who can still feel emotions. She reconnects with Louis at a retro-themed club, only to discover he’s already emotionally lobotomized by the same process. Their tragic dance to “Evergreen” is supposed to tug at your heartstrings but might leave you wondering if you missed the point entirely.

“The Beast” is a French-Canadian co-production, boasting a production team including Les Films du Bélier and Xavier Dolan’s Sons of Manual. The international collaboration is evident in the film’s lofty ambition and scattered execution. Filmed in Paris and Los Angeles, the movie had its grand debut at the Venice International Film Festival before trickling into theaters, much like the confusion it spreads among its viewers.

Critics have been kind, perhaps too kind. With an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 81 on Metacritic, it seems the consensus is that “The Beast” is unwieldy yet rewarding. But let’s be real—this film is like that abstract painting your aunt insists is deep and meaningful while you’re just seeing random splashes of paint.

In summary, “The Beast” is the cinematic equivalent of a modern art exhibit: you’re not quite sure what’s happening, but it’s pretty to look at, and you’ll pretend to understand it because everyone else is nodding thoughtfully. Bonello’s latest might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s undoubtedly an experience—one that will leave you pondering the essence of time travel, love, and why anyone thought doll factories were a good idea in the first place.


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.