I must say, after watching Ari Aster’s latest offering, “Beau Is Afraid,” I was left with a mix of emotions. On one hand, I appreciate the director’s desire to explore the complexities of familial relationships and mental health. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel like Aster was trying too hard to distance himself from his previous work and lost some of his edge in the process.
The film follows Beau (Joaquin Phoenix), an anxious man who is trying to reconnect with his mysterious mother (Patti Lupone). After a series of disturbing events, Beau is hit by a car driven by the affable couple, Roger (Nathan Lane) and Grace (Imogen Ryan). They take him in and nurse him back to health, but as Beau tries to get home to his mother, his past and present collide in strange and unsettling ways.
It’s clear that Aster wanted to explore the idea of the mind being the real horror, but I couldn’t help but feel like he was trying too hard to be artsy and obscure. The film drags on for what feels like an eternity, and at times, it feels like Aster is more interested in showing off his cinematography skills than actually scaring the audience.
Performance-wise, Joaquin Phoenix delivers a solid performance as the anxious and codependent Beau. Nathan Lane is a standout, bringing depth and nuance to his role as the seemingly friendly but ultimately sinister Roger. And while Patti Lupone’s performance wasn’t bad, I was more taken with how good she looked with her hair.
In the end, “Beau Is Afraid” is not a bad movie, but it’s not a great one either. It’s a decent exploration of family dynamics and mental health, but it’s not the horror film that Aster fans were likely hoping for. Hopefully, Aster can find a way to balance his desire to explore complex themes with his talent for crafting truly terrifying films.