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Beau is Afraid Movie Review

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Movie poster for Beau is afraid.

“Beau is Afraid” is American filmmaker Ari Aster’s latest and most controversial movie, and it is leaving its audience confused and horrified. Aster’s third feature length film “Beau is Afraid” has a whopping budget of 35 million dollars, more than tripling his last film “Midsommar”, which had a budget of 9 million, although “Beau is Afraid” has only made 11.5 million in box office. Even with this massive budget and Joaquin Phoenix’s outstanding performance as Beau, the film is getting less than favorable reviews from critics and audiences alike. 

“Beau is Afraid” follows Beau, a deeply paranoid man living in a crime riddled city when he is planning to visit his mother. Beau loses his key and insists he cannot come visit her. He later receives a call informing him a chandelier has fallen and crushed his mother underneath causing her death. The caller continues telling Beau that his mother, Mona, cannot be buried until he is present. So, Beau must brave the fighting world to get to his late mother and allow her to be put to rest. From here it is two more hours of chaos and anxiety. I found the first hour of the movie interesting and the idea of seeing the world through the eyes of a person suffering from intense paranoia fascinating. My initial enjoyment of the film made the stumble and eventual fall into the overly symbolic and dramatic final act even more disappointing.

(Spoiler warning going forward!)

Beau is stabbed multiple times and then hit by a truck. When he awakes, he is in the home of the people who hit him with said truck. The father claims he is a doctor and Beau needs to stay in his and his wife’s home to get better. Also, living there is their super creepy teen daughter and a severely traumatized war vet. Beau is insistent in telling the family he must be taken to his mother’s house, and they push back again and again telling him he is too sick, or they are too busy. The teen daughter ends up taking her own life and trying to get Beau to do the same, which he does not. When the parents return home and find their daughter dead, they blame Beau and command the war vet to hunt down and kill Beau. Beau runs away into the woods and finds himself in a cult-like group. It rapidly falls even further off the rails, leading into an animated sequence, which was too long and full of obnoxiously obvious metaphors. 

As soon as that nightmare ends, Beau finds an elderly man, who may be his father who Beau has been told passed away before Beau was born. This old man is never proven or disproven to be his late father. After this, Beau continues his journey to his mother’s house. When he arrives, he finds that his mother has not died, and the entire plot of this movie was in fact a test to see if Beau truly loves her. It is also revealed that Mona, Beau’s mom, is the owner of the apartment building he lives in and many of the people who we have seen throughout the film work for her.

The movie ends with a very confusing sequence of Beau in a boat in a stadium being judged by hundreds of people and his mother. He is found guilty of everything, I guess? His boat capsizes, and Beau dies. 

After the credits rolled, I just sat in the dark and pondered how I will never get those 3 hours of my life back.

This sound design and cinematography in “Beau is Afraid” are both beautiful, and there are quite a few parts of the movie I enjoyed, but I just can’t see past some of the plot holes and the 3-hour run time. “Beau is Afraid” is not a film I think many people would enjoy; but, if you want to have the ride of your life and feel terrified and confused all at once, maybe you should give it a try.

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