Beau Is Afraid

Beau Is Afraid ★★★

Apparently Ari Aster's films and I are not meant to be a match made in heaven.

After an intriguing first act - by far the movie's most enganging part - Beau is Afraid disintegrates into a self-indulgent pacing nightmare. The second act is a ponderous slog that turned into an increasingly grating endurance test for my patience.

And for what? Joaquin Phoenix shuffles around for three hours, fully committed to the portrayal of a mind-numbingly one-note character who feels guilty about his severe mommy issues. But what has the film actually to say about that? Hardly anything at all, as it turns out.

Look, I'm all for adult-oriented films providing a sorely needed counterpoint to the shiny blockbuster fluff on our theater screens, but somehow I don't think letting self-important arthouse auteurs run amok with oversized budgets and no discernible target audience in mind (see also Amsterdam), is the right way to go about it.

Sure, Beau is Afraid is technically sound, beautifully shot and well performed. It's also a vacuous experience that offers no valuable insight into the human condition. Like in Midsommar, Aster once again went full milquetoast on the weirder elements of the story, refusing to take them to the really disturbing places David Cronenberg, Lars von Trier, Julia Ducournau or David Lynch dare to go.

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