Beau Is Afraid - Review
I'm Visiting My Mother Tomorrow. 4 / 5
Released in UK Cinemas: 19th May 2023
Directed by Ari Aster
A paranoid man embarks on an epic odyssey to get home to his mother.
Watching an anticipated film for the first time is always an exciting experience, but given Ari Aster's impressively created but stress-inducing past work, I sat down to Beau is Afraid with some trepidation.
Aster really cashed in all his chips thanks to the success of Hereditary and Midsommar as Beau is Afraid is a bold, large-scale odyssey packed with detail and a creeping sense of doom hiding behind every corner. Joaquin Phoenix gives another astonishing performance as the titular Beau who essentially has a non-stop panic attack for three hours as it seems everything is out to get him as he attempts to visit his Mother.
Pitched as a 'Tragicomedy' Beau is a very different beast compared to Aster's past work but although this doesn't delve into horror, it creates a just as powerful sense of dread that looms over every scene. But despite all of this - it's really funny. It will definitely be a divisive film for general audiences - it asks those watching to trust in the logic and just go with it.
I loved the production design, especially in the opening city sequence where hilarious details and easter eggs that are on screen for a fraction of a second help to set the tone for the adventure we're about to be taken on. The direct approach of the story at first glance feels very unfocused but quickly becomes clear it has a very strong sense of direction with a cast of colourful characters to guide the way.
An otherworldly voyage, I would be lying if I said I fully understood what Beau is Afraid was trying to unpack and I think that might be the point. Aster continues to be one of the sharpest cinematic minds pairing exaggerated ideas with confident execution to create films that stay with you and encourage discussion, conversation or full blown arguments.