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Beasts – Film Review

Beasts – Film Review
by Frank L.

Director – Rodrigo Sorogoyen
Writers – Isabel Peña (screenplay), Rodrigo Sorogoyen (screenplay)
Stars – Marina Foïs, Denis Ménochet, Luis Zahera

Antoine (Denis  Ménochet) and Olga (Marina Foïs ) are a middle-aged, bourgeois French couple who are also blow-ins to a remote rural part of Galicia. It is an area which has been suffering from economic decline and depopulation for years. Antoine and Olga are following their dream of cultivating their own land and selling the produce in the local market. The area is littered with abandoned homesteads which they eye up with a view to making them available to other urbanites who might wish to follow their dream. But the indigenous population have to eke out a living from this self-same land and have no other means of support. They wish to escape the sheer drudgery of it all. Xan (Luis Zahera) and his simpleton younger brother (Diego Anido) are Antoine and Olga’s neighbours. A wind farm company proposes to buy the various plots of land which offers Xan and his brother the prospect of an escape from the dreariness of it all but Antoine refuses the offer which in turn prevents the proposal from going ahead. As a result, Xan and Lorenzo are stuck in their poverty-stricken lives. Xan is outraged that an outsider is able to frustrate the wishes of those who have lived all their lives in the area. Initially, he makes his displeasure known to Antoine in the local hostelry but his resentment continues to intensify. Antoine senses the escalation and takes countervailing measures which only increases the fracture between them. The animosity grows to the threat of violence…

Ménochet is superb as an alpha male who is certain that he knows what is best for his new community and will not back down, while Zahera is his equal in their increasingly intense duel. Foïs, who is highly supportive of her husband Antoine has a more nuanced understanding as to where they both stand with their neighbours. Similarly, Colomb as Marie moves from someone who thinks she knows what her mother Olga needs to a more informed understanding of their relationship. All of these complexities are played out against the most magnificent Galician countryside and the rustic interiors of simple homes. It is breathtakingly beautiful and the acting of all the minor characters is of the first rank. The film is probably a little too long, as it runs for 140 minutes. That said it is both magnificent to watch while it tells its, at times, tension-filled story.

 

Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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