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Beast

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Beast Movie Poster Image
Violence, drinking, and sex in suspenseful thriller.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 107 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 

Violence

Lead character has nightmares involving a home invasion during which she's hit in the head with a hammer, stabs her assailant with a pair of scissors. Man acts physically aggressive toward the woman he had been drinking with all night, making sexual advances despite her saying no; rifle shots from another man end the altercation. Car accident. Character choked to death. Dead body found buried in a field. Photographs of murdered bodies, investigators say the victims were raped and murdered. After accidentally dropping a glass, lead character picks up a shard, places it in her palm, makes a fist until she bleeds. Two men beat up the man they believe is a murderer. Talk of how lead character stabbed a bully with a pair of scissors, nearly killing the bully and getting lead character expelled from school. Man chokes a woman outside of a pub in the middle of an argument. 

Sex

Lead characters have sex in the woods and in their home. They moan with pleasure. No nudity. 

Language

"F--k" used several times. "S--t," "s--t-faced." Racist term used by minor character while beating up a foreigner he believes murdered his daughter. 

Consumerism

Heineken products and advertisements. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking in pubs, parties, formal occasions. Lead character binge-drinks vodka, shown drunk in dance clubs and bars. Cigarette smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beast is a 2017 British thriller in which a young woman falls in love with a man accused of being a serial killer. The lead character has nightmares involving home invasions during which she's struck in the head with a hammer by her assailant, and stabs him in the chest with a pair of scissors in another. A car accident. Character choked to death. The lead character binge-drinks vodka, then, after accidentally dropping a glass on the floor, picks up a shard, places it in the palm of her hand, and makes a fist until she bleeds. Dead body found in a field. Photos of dead bodies; investigators say the victims were raped and murdered. A man continues to make aggressive sexual advances even after a woman tells him to stop. Rifle shots. Characters have sex in the woods and in their home, no nudity, sounds of moaning. Drinking, often to excess --- lead character shown drunk at parties, pubs, dance clubs. Some profanity, including "f--k" used a few times. A racist slur is used.

User Reviews

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What's the story?

In BEAST, Moll (Jessie Buckley) is 27 and still living at home and working as a tour guide on bus tours of the Channel Islands. Beyond weary of her surroundings and the ever-watchful eye of her domineering mother (Geraldine James), she walks out on her own birthday party and goes to a nightclub to drink and dance until the next morning. While trying to ward off the aggressive sexual advances of the man she met at the club, Moll meets Pascal (Johnny Flynn), a seemingly rough-and-tumble yet sensitive man who happens to be out hunting rabbits and uses his rifle to stop the near-assault. Pascal, who works as a home repairman, seems to say and do everything Moll wishes she could say and do in her claustrophobic life -- he swears in front of her mother, fights back against bullies, and doesn't bother even attempting to conform to the standards of the island's country-club set. Pascal and Moll begin a whirlwind romance, culminating in Moll rejecting her family and moving in with him. But the romance is complicated by the horrifying news of a serial killer roaming the island and killing and raping women. Pascal, with his mysterious past and long rap sheet, is a prime suspect; Moll is informed of this by a police officer who has also had a crush on her for quite some time, thus making it difficult for Moll to take him at his word. Moll doesn't know who to believe, as the reality is further complicated by Moll's own past actions. 

Is it any good?

While audiences want thrillers to go left when it's expected that they'll go right, this film accomplishes this and so much more. There's such an awareness of the conventions of the "doomed romance of the bad boy and good girl" story that the unreal reality takes on incredible proportions. In this backdrop -- Jersey, in the Channel Islands, as beautiful as it is boring for Moll, a literal "choir girl" of 27 living an oppressive home life ruled by a domineering mother -- Moll's recurring dreams of home invasions are as surreal as Moll and Pascal getting swept up in line dancing with other Europeans after unknowingly going to a local pub during its "Country Music Night."

The acting in Beast is extraordinary from beginning to end. As Pascal, Johnny Flynn transitions from James Dean to Ted Bundy and back again, and the seeming ease by which he does this makes it impossible to know with 100% certainty if he's truly evil or simply misunderstood. As Moll, Jessie Buckley delivers a truly incredible performance, with so much depth and nuance, the demons lurking beneath the surface-level "repressed nonconformist in a sea of conformity" are truly shocking, as the viewer begins to question their assumptions as to which characters are "sympathetic" and which are not. It's a movie that rewards careful and repeated viewing, a bold debut by director Michael Pearce. Recommended for older teens and adults.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about thrillers. How does Beast compare to other suspenseful movies where the action slowly builds and the answers aren't completely revealed until the film's final minutes? 

  • What are some other examples of movies centered on a "bad boy" rebel type and the "good girl" from a more conservative background sharing an unlikely and seemingly doomed romance?

  • How does this movie play with the conventions of thriller movies? 

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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