Beast review: Jessie Buckley steals the show in this bleakly brilliant psychological thriller

Imagine if Ian McEwan wrote an episode of Bergerac...

Beast starring Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn.

Beast
106 minutes (15)
★★★★★

When Michael Pearce’s psychological thriller Beast first arrived in cinemas back in 2017, it earned plenty of acclaim even if the box office returns were modest.

Anyone lucky enough to have seen it at the cinema the first time around will have enjoyed a rare treat, but the release of Beast on Blu-Ray and DVD offers a second chance to anyone who missed out on one of the most unusual and intriguing films of the year.

Written and directed by Pearce in his feature film debut, Beast is as artful and atmospheric a movie as you are likely to find, with every frame drenched in a quiet, stifling, dreamlike state of dread.

The score too channels the film’s quietly claustrophobic feel, which is only enhanced by the decision to set the story on the island of Jersey.

But this is no Bergerac, with the story centring on Moll, a 27-year-old still living at home, on the small island, and under the iron rule of her mother.

Her life changes for the better when she meets the free-spirited Pascal though, with the pair quickly falling in love.

The happiness doesn’t last, however, when Pascal becomes the prime suspect in a series of brutal murders against young girls and women on the island.

Moll suddenly faces a choice between the community she despises and the man she loves who may or may not be concealing his own demons.

While Johnny Flynn excels as Pascal, capable of being both roughly charming and violently volatile, Beast belongs to Jessie Buckley’s Moll.

In her first starring film role, Buckley delivers a fascinating multi-layered performance that begs your attention throughout.

By turns sweet and skittishly edgy, Buckley’s Moll channels something approaching Sissy Spacek in Badlands, seduced by the bad boy that rebels against authority.

Starting out as a stifled and restrained presence, the arrival of Pascal sees Moll transform, only for the revelations concerning Pascal’s possible murderous criminality to leave her painfully conflicted in an anguish effectively brought to life by Pearce and Buckle.y

Buckley’s uniquely unhinged fragility also leaves you wondering whether Pascal’s arrival inspired Moll’s transformation or if she had a darkness lying dormant inside her all these years.

A complex, and consistently mesmerising examination of the darkness residing in the human soul, by the end of the film you’ll be wondering who the ‘Beast’ of the title truly refers to.

Thrilling visually impressive and consistently gripping, Beast rightly ranks among the best films of 2017. If you didn’t see it the first time, don’t make the same mistake twice.

Beast is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now.

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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.