Ari Aster is back with his third feature film, Beau is Afraid. For me, the director’s first two films split with me liking Midsommar and not liking Hereditary. If you’ve been on the internet the past week, you’ve seen plenty of chatter about Beau is Afraid. With a three-hour run time, does Aster strike gold? Or fall short? Below I share my review and let you know if it’s worth checking out in theaters.
Beau is Afraid follows Beau (Joaquin Phoenix), whose mother’s sudden death causes this anxiety-filled man to confront his darkest fears as he embarks on a journey back home. Throughout Beau’s ride, he must face his relationship with his mother, overcoming obstacles placed in his way and a woman he was once smitten by.
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Where to begin is something I’ve struggled with when writing this review because this film has quite a bit of unpacking in this lengthy run time. Let’s start with a few pros within the film, starting with Ari Aster’s ability to write comedy. Within this wild, twisted ride, Aster does a great job presenting moments to us that are purely dark humor that make you question whether or not you should laugh. Because of that, I really hope Aster writes a full fledge dark comedy one day cause I think it would be incredible. Another thing I liked was the fun little cameos and the needle drop featuring a pop icon.
Now for the bad. This script is an utter disaster that is pointless. We meander around for three hours to follow Beau on this journey of Mommy issues? The second act of this film is one of the worst in cinema history. If you take this entire portion of the film out, the film doesn’t miss a beat. It’s overly stylistic for no reason, which was another exhausting thing. It’s easily one of the worst theatrical experiences I’ve ever had because it felt like it would never end.
What made the script even worse was that I couldn’t invest enough in any of the characters to care about the dialogue. I’m not taking away from Joaquin Phoenix’s work here, cause he is fine in the film, but it felt like such a wasted performance. There is a moment when Mona (Patti LuPone) delivers this powerful monologue at the end of the movie that is strong, but you are so checked out that it has no meaning behind it. It’s one big pointless movie.
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Even if you take some of the film’s good qualities, none of them are redeeming enough to make this worth watching. It’s a film that I hope to forget I watched in a week and never revisit again. I can’t recommend this movie to anyone, or they would hate me forever.
Overall, Beau is Afraid reminded me of driving for ten hours to see your family during the holidays. The entire ride is filled with some nice sights, but as each hour passes, you get increasingly exhausted to the point when you arrive, you are left unfulfilled. No, Ari Aster’s career is far from over, but if he never makes another three-hour film that is a complete waste of time, that would be lovely.