THRILLER; 1hr 47min
STARRING: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James
Strange depths: Buckley and Flynn couple up
All is manifestly not well on the manicured island of Jersey where Moll (Buckley) lives at home with her domineering, “best-friend” mother Hilary (James) and her Alzheimer’s-afflicted father; adding fuel to the impending fire, her self-righteous brother and sister live nearby.
A moody brooder with a roiling black streak and a chequered past who despises her job as a tour-coach hostess, Moll is classic gilded-cage material. She’s an explosion waiting to happen, and when the plainly peculiar Pascal (Flynn) enters her stifling orbit, that combustion is inevitable, even if he does have a criminal record and is a suspect in the TV news–trumpeted killings of four local girls. Moll, no angel herself, refuses to care. Pascal is a fellow wounded bird and a life-affirming escape from Hilary’s iron-fisted, velvet-voiced reproaches. Plus, he’s scruffily hot and knows how to give a misfit girl a sexy old time.
Or maybe not! Beast is no liberating romance, nor is anything plain and simple in writer-director Michael Pearce’s surprising feature-film debut, the contours of which disintegrate with a hounded Moll’s slipping grip. She staunchly defends her new man to police, which counts for very little since neither she nor Pascal are the most stable cards in anyone’s deck. What are they, then? Misfits whose grooves fit together or a toxic disaster on four legs? The answer is unguessable, cunningly concealed to the very end in the simmering enigma of a tight-knit screenplay and pared-down, internalised performances that sweep sanity and parameters before them.