Review / ‘Beast’ (M) *** and a half

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AN adolescent girl has been murdered on the island of Jersey and the residents are more than a little concerned.

One young woman isn’t overly bothered with that. The relationship between tourist guide Moll (Jessie Buckley) and her mother (Geraldine James) is close to toxic. When Moll, on her day off, goes for a rural walk with an amorous young man whose importunations get a tad too insistent, she is grateful for the intervention of another young man Pascal (Johnny Flynn) who seems to be just right for her. They become lovers. Things seem to be going fine. However, “Beast” is a thriller and to that point its conflicts are rather mild. But that’s a mere waypoint on its dramatic journey

Writer/director Michael Pearce’s feature debut been nominated four times for peer awards at prestigious festivals without yet winning any. It deserves to win one before long. The screenplay explores several possibilities. Jessie Buckley may never grace the cover of a magazine of good repute but her expressive features and profound acting skills have potential to take her far.

Filmmakers are coming to the Channel Islands in a slow trickle that may well become a flood – remember “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”? Pearce’s creative craft makes impressive use of the locations. And the visual and dramatic authenticity of his staging and filming of the denouement surely has few equals in the whole history of cinema.

At Dendy

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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