Beau is Afraid Review

“When we use love and compassion as our guiding principles we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.”

-Joaquin Phoenix

This quote by Joaquin Phoenix holds true in life. His performance in Beau is Afraid contains “love” and “compassion” as well as “guiding principles.” In all the elements in this film, the world created by director Ari Aster utilizes a foundation from the past and present. Phoenix’s performance maximizes the film’s invigorating tensions. Beau is Afraid is like an adventure mixed with medicinal side-effects. The bizarreness of Beau is Afraid is truly surreal brilliance. There are unexplained scenarios that involve pieces which appear in the most twisted of ways. Beau is Afraid is an experience of information overload with a positive perspective. The film may seem mind-boggling and overwhelming for some. I even felt that way in moments, but my heart was set purely on the adventure of a misconstrued man. Phoenix as Beau is that man in Beau is Afraid.

The film starts with Beau visiting his doctor because he suffers from extreme anxiety. The film shifts frequently to make the environment around Beau have a haunting and psychologically stressful ambience. This is common of Aster’s directing. Beau talks about how he is excited to visit his mother, but Beau really has lots of anxiety about the visit. As Beau preps for his trip, his environment goes awry. His world seems to crash in on him and his manic episodes put him in the home of a married couple named Grace (played by Amy Ryan) and Roger (played by Nathan Lane). They explain to Beau that they are taking care of him because he has been in an accident. With Beau’s mental state and worry about getting to his mother, Beau’s path home turns darker. The journey for Beau is an odyssey and which Aster is known for in his films. However, the odyssey in Beau is Afraid is the most in-depth one I have ever seen in any of his projects.

The film had me thinking about the visuals as Beau’s journey continued moving forward. The moments when Beau was going to a new place or trying to find new answers were like a world filled with puzzles, facts, and unfolded truths. Beau thinks back to his past a lot, and it correlates with the current challenges as he struggles to make his way home to see his mother. There are times where the technical aspects lighten up, darken, or go rogue. There are also times where a dark subject for Beau turns to negative cinematography. This effect is added with much more than just harrowing lighting.

Sometimes Beau encounters monsters of his past or even first world problems that he takes too seriously. Every problem in Beau’s head contains a recipe for more surprises to be unfolded. Aster’s directing is filled with a pattern of linking what is in Beau’s mind to other elements in the film. This results in the environments in Beau’s strange journey continuously shifting. It is a ride of questions and truths, but ultimately Beau is Afraid is about Beau confronting his past. The problems in his life hold the key to his anxiety and also the adventure he is on.

Beau is Afraid remains on track, and from my experience, it was revolutionary. The mind of Aster is put to the test in Beau is Afraid. I did feel overwhelmed throughout the film, but that did not stop me from enjoying how much it was blowing my mind. Beau is Afraid is enticing and will prompt viewers to think about the psychological aspects for hours after the movie is over. It will also leave viewers curious to how long they can hold onto something mentally and not let go. Beau has a hard time dismissing the harsh subjects in his head. His experience putting together the pieces is an epic and wildly dazzling experience. Beau is Afraid, but Phoenix is not afraid to play Beau. Aster is known for making scenes feel visually real and leaving a mark. Beau is Afraid is gorgeous and monumental. Aster demonstrates his impressive talent as a director in Beau is Afraid. It will leave audiences with all kinds of emotions and make them think. Four stars.


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