In her directorial debut, Piper creates something so rare and unique that it is not easy to categorize, nor to explain. Rare Beasts doesn't just turn the romcom genre on its head -- flipping every cliche into a question, a challenge, a demand for something different -- it digs deep into the very notions of feminism, misogyny, love, and happiness. Piper is mesmerizing in the lead role, one of bemusement, anger, and disorientation. While Pete is fittingly unlikeable, all micro-aggressions, put-downs, and coercion, with occasional hints of decency proving just enough to maintain the relationship.
There's a dream-like atmosphere created by the bold stylistic choices of off-kilter angles and surreal backdrops. This is intensified by frantic strings and use of ironically happy songs, with musical interludes and complete breaks in reality that leave the audience to try to navigate the chaos of Mandy's mind. It's bold, dark, and unnerving. The film has something to say, but it's never quite possible to grasp exactly what that is. It's a sense of frustration, anger, bewilderment, and discovery that is too far out of reach for some, but certainly cements Piper as a fascinating filmmaker to watch.