Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight Of Cups’ Won’t Arrive Until 2016, Austin Music Scene Drama Not Titled ‘Weightless’ Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight Of Cups’ Won’t Arrive Until 2016, Austin Music Scene Drama Not Titled ‘Weightless’ The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 'Lucy 2' And 'Colombiana 2' Are In Development 'Lucy 2' And 'Colombiana 2' Are In Development Mixed Reactions For Marvel's 'Ant-Man' After First Press Screening Plus New Promos And Pics Mixed Reactions For Marvel's 'Ant-Man' After First Press Screening Plus New Promos And Pics The Essentials: The 5 Best Rachel McAdams Performances The Essentials: The 5 Best Rachel McAdams Performances The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

SXSW '12 Review: 'Beast' A Lean & Surreal Portrait Of An Extreme Relationship That Doesn't Quite Go Far Enough

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | The Playlist March 12, 2012 at 6:29PM

"Beast" is a lean, surreal portrait of a marriage in its extremes from Danish director Christoffer Boe, who's probably still best known for his 2003 feature debut "Reconstruction." The film's focus keeps almost exclusively to Bruno (Nicolas Bro) and Maxine (Marijana Jankovic), a couple whose relationship vacillates between love and hate and a meeting place between the two that approaches the feral. When we first see them, the pair are looking at a beautiful apartment they're considering buying. "Let's take this home and be a family," Bruno proposes. The hope and sweetness of the moment then goes slightly dissonant with unease when Maxine cuts her finger and Bruno sucks at the cut and talks, with all romanticism, about having a part of her inside him.
0
Beast

"Beast" is a lean, surreal portrait of a marriage in its extremes from Danish director Christoffer Boe, who's probably still best known for his 2003 feature debut "Reconstruction." The film's focus keeps almost exclusively to Bruno (Nicolas Bro) and Maxine (Marijana Jankovic), a couple whose relationship vacillates between love and hate and a meeting place between the two that approaches the feral. When we first see them, the pair are looking at a beautiful apartment they're considering buying. "Let's take this home and be a family," Bruno proposes. The hope and sweetness of the moment then goes slightly dissonant with unease when Maxine cuts her finger and Bruno sucks at the cut and talks, with all romanticism, about having a part of her inside him.

The next time we see the pair, an unclear amount of time has passed and their marriage is on the rocks. They walk in the snow -- always the snow, "Beast" makes Copenhagen look like a city inside a snow globe -- while Bruno tells his wife, "You never give anything. You can't. You're a beast. I love you because you're a beast." But who the real monster is remains to be determined. The idea of romance in "Beast" is impossible to untangle from obsession, and love and destruction exist uncomfortably close to one another. Maxine is slowly trying to extricate herself from her marriage and has started an affair with Valdemar (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), who's also got a spouse -- the two make plans to tell their significant others soon so that they can be together openly.

Beast

But Bruno's not going to be able to simply let Maxine go. His transformation into the creature of the title isn't quite literal, though it isn't all a metaphor either -- late in the film there's the disturbing image of a horrified Maxine washing black liquid from between her legs after questionably consenting sex with her husband. The film is peppered with shots of drops of blood dreamily expanding in a solution, as if Maxine is working on him from within, so that he collapses from the pain. Love, for Bruno, is a kind of illness, something that threatens to kill him, something from which he won't be able to recover. His love is a smothering, draining thing, a quality that's appealing until it becomes intolerable, and it's emphasized by the physical difference between the two actors. Jankovic is delicate and pale and often wears a coat with an oversized hood that makes her look like a fairytale heroine, while Bruno is strapping and physical, his animalistic qualities emerging in how he talks and eats as his mental instability grows. A sex scene early on showcases the ferocious undertone of Bruno and Maxine's relationship, when he cuts the side of her breast with a knife and burrows into the wound to her evident enjoyment. Afterwards, he roars at himself in the mirror.

Something is happening to Bruno, something beyond just a breakdown, though "Beast" leaves that opaque in a way that doesn't seem so much mystery as indecision. "I want to get inside Maxine," he tells Valdemar after maneuvering him into having a beer after work. "I must get inside her so that she can feel the same as me." Her lover takes this in with obvious discomfort, as he should -- Bruno's about to start consuming raw meat and maiming himself. Sophia Olsson's intimate cinematography enhances the feverish nature of this story, but it's finally a fairly narrow portrait of love as a ravenous hunger that never pushes as far into madness as you hope it will. [B-]

This article is related to: SXSW Film Festival, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates