I’m definitely not predicting that Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid will snag a Best Picture nomination early next year. It’s way too unconventional for those dumb-ass, easy-lay SAG-AFTRA voters who loved EEAAO, but it is the kind of unhinged, wackazoid, Fellini-esque family psychodrama that deserves such an honor.
I’m serious as a heart attack. I was expecting hell but it kind of knocked me flat. Not altogether but close. The craziest, trippiest and least predictable film I’ve seen since I don’t remember what.
It’s a nightmare comedy that’s really out there and ooh, man, does it swing for the fences! At the very least it’s a solid triple. Speaking as a confirmed LQTM-er it means something, trust me, that I laughed out loud four or five times.
I can’t call this 179-minute crazytown film “pleasant” but aside from a couple of sluggish spots it’s truly fascinating and exciting as fuck for the most part. Not a perfect film but unmistakably brave and intelligent and immaculately conceived and constructed, and certainly all of a piece.
It struck me as mining similar turf as that which the Coen’s A Serious Man lies upon, only way more surreal. Is it God or your mother who’s out to torture you to death, or are you the bad guy, consumed by cowardice and self-loathing?
During the super-imaginative first 60% to 70% I was thinking Beau would be a great film to watch with a little lysergic acid diathylamide in my system, but I wasn’t thinking along those lines during the last third, which is alternately loopy and sexual and fiercely guilt-trippy (please, mama!) and intense.
Even when it’s not fully working, it’s a brilliant tour de force on a Fellini Satyricon level…hoo-hoo and cuckoo…through the looking glass & down the white rabbit hole…a truly no-holds-barred, psychologically warped Wizard of Oz mescaline nightmare, unleashed and unloosed…a fine madness…demonic, crazy-ass shit and much of it half mind-blowing and half-hilarious.
Paunchy, balding and unshaven Joaquin Phoenix whimpers and weeps and moans his way through the whole thing, but like a hemophiliac with blood pouring out of his arm. Patti Lupone is amazing, . blistering — instant Best Supporting Actress noms. And it’s great to have Parker Posey back in the swing of it!
This is a landmark feat of imaginative wackazoid filmmaking. Yowsah!