One of the bigger stories to come out of 2023’s Toronto International Film Festival was Bertrand Bonello’s science fiction movie The Beast, a dizzying, surreal story about a woman, Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux), reliving three past lives as part of a process to purge her memories and emotions. In each of these lives, she encounters Louis (George MacKay of 1917 and Marrowbone) in a series of emotional relationships that lead in dangerous directions. Critics’ responses were split between strong positives and dubious negatives, but they seemed to agree that it’s a remarkably image-driven, idea-packed film that’s sensual and challenging. The comparison to the Wachowskis’ Cloud Atlas seemed obvious, too, given the separate but linked stories of people echoing across time together.
Polygon’s reviewer, on the other hand, was an unqualified fan of the film. He told us it was “the purest science fiction experience a movie can offer.” The Beast, actually a stylized, high-concept riff on Henry James’ 1903 short story “The Beast in the Jungle,” focuses on emotion and experience more than on the mechanical details of reincarnation or the flashback process, which makes for a gripping, immersive experience. From his review:
The Beast’s three timelines play with seemingly unmixable genres: a classic period romance, a gripping horror-thriller, and dystopian sci-fi. That places them at a logistical disconnect, but Bonello binds them aesthetically and emotionally. Through his lengthy, thought-provoking close-ups of Gabrielle and Louis in each section, he creates a sense of longing and isolation across time, binding together human experiences of the past, present, and future, and putting them into sharp and chilling context.
The trailer is mostly impressionistic, with flashes of energy, grief, and anger, with very few specifics about the story. But if you want a fuller rundown of what, by all accounts, seems to be a fairly challenging and complicated movie, here’s the distributor’sRead more on polygon.com