‘Beau is Afraid’ Review

Beau is Afraid Review

Karina Josephitis

From the mind of Midsommar and Hereditary, after 10 years of planning and working on the movie, Ari Aster, in collaboration with A24, has released the new 2hr 59min movie, Beau is Afraid. The movie is a mix of comedy and horror, based on all of Beau Wassermann’s biggest fears and anxieties. 

Beau Wasserman is the son of a famous and wealthy businesswoman, Mona. He grows up without a father, who his mother says died the day Beau was conceived. As a teenager on a cruise trip with his mother, Beau meets and falls in love with a girl named Elaine. The two kiss and promise to reconnect as adults.

As an adult, Beau is extremely anxious and lives alone in a crime-ridden city. His therapist prescribes an experimental drug for his anxiety and warns him to only take it with water. He prepares for a flight to see his mother for the anniversary of his father’s death but sleeps through his alarm after a neighbor keeps him awake with their loud music and sliding notes under his door. As he is about to leave, he discovers that his keys and luggage have been stolen from outside his door. Beau calls his mother to explain the situation, but she dismisses him.

Beau takes his medication but panics when he discovers there’s a water outage. On his way to a convenience store across the street, he avoids a group of deranged homeless people who break into his apartment and lock him out. After sleeping on scaffolding outside the building, Beau returns to his vandalized apartment the next morning. He attempts to call his mother, only to have it answered by a UPS driver who tells him that she was decapitated in an accident. In a state of shock, he tries to take a bath, only to discover an intruder hiding in the ceiling. The intruder falls and Beau runs out of his apartment and onto the streets. After a brief confrontation with a police officer, Beau is hit by a food truck.

Beau wakes up two days later in the house of a married couple, Grace and Roger. They care for an unstable veteran named Jeeves, who was their son’s army comrade before he was killed in action. The couple has a teenage daughter named Toni, who instantly despises Beau. Beau calls Mona’s attorney, Dr. Cohen, who informs Beau that despite the Jewish custom to lay the body to rest as soon as possible, her last wish was not to be buried until he is present. Roger promises to take Beau to his mother’s estate as soon as possible but insists he rest until he is healed.

Throughout Beau’s stay in their home, Grace subtly hints to him that he is being watched and warns Beau not to “incriminate” himself. On the day of Beau’s release, Toni takes him to her brother’s old room and attempts to force him to paint the walls in different colors. When he refuses, she ruthlessly berates Beau before drinking a can of paint, which causes her death. Grace walks in on Beau standing over Toni and violently blames him for her death. As Beau flees into the woods, Grace sends Jeeves after him.

Lost in the woods, Beau comes upon a group of traveling theater actors named “The Orphans of the Forest”. He is invited to their rehearsal and becomes entranced by the play, imagining himself as the protagonist, who spends his entire life looking for his family after they’re separated by a flood. A man approaches Beau and informs him that he knew his father and that he is alive. The troupe is ambushed by Jeeves, and Beau flees deeper into the woods.

Beau hitchhikes the rest of his way to the estate, only to find that he had just missed his mother’s funeral. He naps on the couch and wakes up to the sound of a woman entering the house, late for the service. He realizes it is Elaine and they reconnect. They make their way to Mona’s bedroom. Beau is terrified that he’s going to die but is relieved when he survives. However, Elaine has died, her body frozen stiff. Mona then appears from the shadows and reveals that she was not only still alive but watching the whole time. She shames Beau and reveals that his therapist works for her, and had been sharing their sessions with her for years. He demands to know the truth about his father, and she takes him to the attic, where Beau learns that he not only has a secret twin brother, but his father is actually a giant monster. At that moment, Jeeves breaks into the house and is killed by the monster. After further humiliation from his mother, an enraged Beau strangles her.

In shock, Beau leaves the estate and finds a motorboat on a beach, commandeering it into the sea. After entering a cave, the boat’s motor begins to stall and he suddenly finds himself in a crowded arena, where he’s put on trial by a still-alive Mona and Dr. Cohen on a podium acting as prosecutors. They show footage of every instance of Beau slighting his mother on a jumbotron. Beau tries to fend for himself but discovers that his feet are now glued to the boat. He attempts to appeal to his mother, but when she does not respond, he finally accepts his fate. The boat’s motor explodes, capsizing the boat and drowning Beau. The credits silently roll as the crowd leaves the arena with Dr. Cohen and Mona, who sobs uncontrollably.

Junior Aislin Frye shares her thoughts on the film saying, “I thought Beau is Afraid was a good movie. There were good representations of fear, although they were pretty odd, I found them relatable. Other than the odd parts of the movie.”

The movie is three hours long and has received some comments from the public, both good and bad. Frye says, “I think that what was in the movie was fine and the length was fine. The only problem I found was that there are a few things that didn’t get explained, and I also thought the plot would go in a different direction. It just kept spiraling into nonstop insanity.”

Ari Aster has a very big reputation for directing the movies Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019). Both movies are quite different in their own special ways but share very similar deep reasoning. Beau Is Afraid is quite different from both movies in many ways. Frye shares, “I love both Midsommar and Hereditary. Each has a unique uneasiness to them. Although I think Beau Is Afraid is a bit out of place with the other two because they’re about cults. If I were to rank them based on personal taste, it would be Midsommar, Beau Is Afraid, then Hereditary.

Critically acclaimed actor Joaquin Phoenix, very well known for his role as the Joker in 2019, was cast to play Beau in the movie. Frye says, “I think the casting was great because Joaquin Phoenix did an amazing job playing his character. He captured Beau’s emotions very well. Other than the main character, there were a bunch of actors that fit their roles well and that I loved.”

The movie was definitely not what many expected it to be, there were many twists and turns to the plot that nobody would’ve thought of. Frye says, “I think the plot could be stronger but it was a very enjoyable/entertaining plot. The plot changes towards the end and ends up more brutal than the beginning feels.”

The ending of the movie received lots of mixed reviews because of how confusing it was. Frye shares, “The ending was very interesting. I don’t completely understand it after one watch, which makes it hard to give my opinion. I think I’d have to watch the movie multiple times to fully understand it, but I liked the ending.”

Senior, Nicholas Caballero says that “I thought it was really well made but it wasn’t for me. It was good though. I’m sure Ari Aster had his reasons for making it so long- but to me, it felt very disjointed. It felt like it was put into sections/segments and that made three hours feel like five. There was definitely a point where I was just so tired and thought it was ending.”

Caballero shares his thoughts about Aster’s previous movies, “I love Midsommar and Hereditary. I think they are both extremely well-made and super scary, they totally reinvigorated the horror genre. Beau is Afraid is definitely my least favorite of his films, but I also mainly watch horror movies, whereas this movie was more of a comedy/artsy type. Which isn’t bad, but it just isn’t my usual vibe.”

He shares how he feels about the casting of the movie and their work, ‘I thought the casting was perfect. Joaquin honestly disappeared into his role as Beau. I kept forgetting it was him. Patti Lupone as his mother was such a standout. I think everyone was so perfect and definitely did not hold back on any of their performances. So many scenes in this movie I simply would not have been able to take seriously if it weren’t for the fact that everyone on screen was playing it so seriously.”

Caballero also shares, “I think the plot was really interesting but to me it felt a little disjointed. I feel like the point was probably to come across as random and crazy, but it was so random and crazy that I wasn’t even sure what the movie wanted me to feel. The attic scene especially was too much to not expand upon. It was a bit frustrating because you can’t show something like that and not elaborate. I’m not necessarily mad- just very confused. I did not really understand and I don’t think anyone really did. The silence in the theater when the credits rolled was loud. Literally not one word was spoken.” Overall, The movie was all over the place, so some things weren’t as clear as others, but worth a watch..