Beau Is Afraid Ending Explained & Film Analysis

Beau Is Afraid (2023): meaning of the movie, explanation of the ending, plot description, similar movies. Hermit spider, flood, cave and other metaphors of the arthouse Beau Is Afraid.

Country: USA, Canada, UK, Finland

Genre: Arthouse, Drama, Comedy, Horror

Year of production: 2023

Directed by: Ari Aster

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Patty LuPone, Kylie Rogers, Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan

tagline: “Don’t be afraid of the big adventure”

The meaning of the film Beau Is Afraid certainly cannot be called simple and understandable. Although a sophisticated viewer can decipher several of his metaphors without difficulty, many of the mysteries of the picture are likely to remain without explanation – at least accurate and detailed. Unless the director himself decides to give a detailed interpretation of his work, but this, it seems, is not worth the wait.

What is the movie about

So, to begin with, let’s make a description of the plot of the picture.

Beau Is Afraid begins with the episode of the birth of the protagonist in the first person. The baby comes out of the mother’s womb, and we immediately hear the restless cries of the latter – she is afraid that something is wrong with the child. Doctors console her: everything is in order.

Joaquin PhoenixJoaquin Phoenix as Bo Wasserman. Frame from the film.

Next, we see the already fifty-year-old Bo, who came to a psychotherapy session. He shows concern about accidentally drinking a cleaning agent the day before. The mother calls on the smartphone, and he says that he is going to visit her tomorrow – on the anniversary of his father’s death. Beau talks about having a reoccurring disturbing dream, but the therapist brings the patient back to the analysis of his feelings about the upcoming trip.

While listening to the client voice his thoughts about this, the doctor makes a note in a notebook: “Guilt.” The taper hints to Beau that he is not just going back to the house where he was hurt – he has some kind of (probably unconscious) purpose. The Doctor asks directly if Bo wants his mother dead. He explains that this may be a desire that also causes rejection and fear at the same time, but if it exists, it is important to admit it to yourself. At the end of the session, the therapist prescribes Bo a medication that should eliminate the manifestations of anxiety – it must be taken only with water.

The hero goes home. In the foreground we see a boy who is scolded by his mother for disobedience. Bo buys a gift for her mother – a figurine depicting a woman with a baby. Passers-by crowded at the foot of a high-rise building – a man is about to jump off the roof.

It got dark. In the foreground we see a woman pulling a man behind her. There are a lot of marginalized people around. One of them, a tattooed man, follows Bo running towards the house and rushes after him, but the hero slams the door in his face. The entrance looks deplorable: there is dirt all around, walls painted with vandals, a barely working elevator.

On the door of his apartment, Bo sees a warning that a poisonous recluse spider has been found in the building. Immediately we see an insect in the hero’s room. Bo greets with a photo of his father. In the image, a man is holding a hammer, his face is blurred. On TV they talk about a maniac-ripper – a circumcised man who runs through the streets and pokes at those around him with a knife.

fairy tale valley with an angelFrame from the film.

Bo writes on the bottom of the statuette, intended for the mother, the words of regret in connection with the anniversary of the death of his father. At the end, he tries to write his name, but runs out of paint. Bo reaches for a new marker in a drawer and stumbles across a photograph of a girl named Elaine that he keeps.

Bo goes to bed, but can’t sleep because of the noise outside. During the night, someone approached the hero’s door and placed notes under it. Their content says that Bo turned on loud music (although this was not), which interferes with sleep. In the end, the neighbor turns on his music center in revenge.

Due to a sleepless night, Bo misses his plane. In addition, the key left in the door and the luggage next to it suddenly disappear. The hero calls his mother and justifies himself. She first expresses concern, then becomes stricter. Bo asks his mother what to do, but she stops talking. After that, the noise intensifies in the street, screams are heard. It seems to Bo that someone is about to break into his apartment, in connection with which he immediately creates a makeshift barricade.

The hero tries to drink the pills prescribed by the doctor, but suddenly it turns out that the water has been turned off. After receiving confirmation on the Internet that taking this medicine without water threatens with dire consequences, Bo rushes into the street. One of the scary people who overwhelmed her pursues the hero, but does not enter the store. Bo drinks water and tries to pay for the purchase, but there is not enough money. The seller threatens to call the police. Meanwhile, marginalized individuals from the street enter Bo’s house, and then break into his apartment and run amok there. The hero who has lost the keys can only watch it powerlessly, sitting on the scaffolding.

Bo falls asleep and wakes up the next day. He manages to get into the building and cautiously climbs up to his apartment. The door to it is wide open, and next to it lies the corpse of the tattooed man who had previously pursued him. Bo’s smartphone is in his hand, on which the first two digits of the emergency number are dialed.

Armen NakhapetyanThe role of young Bo was played by Armen Nakhapetyan. Frame from the film.

In the now-chaotic apartment, Bo gets to the crippled computer to book another plane flight, but fails to pay with his credit card. He calls his mother to tell her about it, but hears an answering machine. Bo dials the number again and is answered by a stranger who introduces himself as a postman. The stranger says that he is next to the corpse of a woman. She was smashed in the head by a fallen chandelier. The postman reaches into the purse of the deceased, takes out her documents and reads out the name: Mona Wasserman. This is Bo’s mother.

The hero cannot believe what is happening and, dumbfounded, goes to the bath, already overflowing with water. Lying in it, he holds a smartphone in one hand, a gift figurine in the other and looks at the portrait of his mother, captured with baby Bo in her arms. The hero dials another number – this time his psychotherapist, but he can’t get through. Suddenly, a drop falls on Bo from the ceiling, he looks up and sees a man leaning against the walls and shaking with fear. A spider crawls on his face. A man in a panic falls directly into the bathroom to Bo and, floundering, drowns the hero.

A naked Bo manages to jump out of the tub. Without letting go of the figurine, he immediately runs into the street in horror and stumbles upon the also naked maniac, which was discussed in the news. Bo rushes in the other direction to the policeman who is talking to the woman and asks him for help. However, the law enforcement officer seems to be very frightened as well. Although Bo shows no sign of defiance, the policeman threatens to shoot him, mistaking the statuette for a weapon. The hero takes off running, but is hit by a car.

Blackout. We see an excerpt from Bo’s annoying, disturbing dream: a mother swears at her son, then as if a bird starts chirping in the direction of an observer watching her from the bathroom.

taking a bathFrame from the film.

Bo wakes up to the sound of birds chirping. It turns out that he was sheltered by people who brought him down. They are Grace and Roger. The latter is a surgeon, so he patched up Bo a bit. After all, he suffered not only as a result of a collision with a car, but immediately after that he received several stabs from the notorious street maniac. Roger also fixed a device on the guest’s leg that allegedly monitors the state of health. The couple allow Beau to stay as long as it takes to recover. This irritates their teenage daughter, Toni. Also living in the house is Jeeves, a colleague of the son of the Newton spouses, who died in a military operation in Caracas. The guy is mentally ill. So that he does not show aggression, he is given pills. However, tablets are taken in general by all members of the family.

Bo calls his mother’s lawyer, Harold Cohen. He confirms the death of his mother. He presses on Bo’s guilt. Cohen says that the longer he delays arriving, the greater the humiliation. During the conversation, Jeeves runs around the yard. He jumps into the pool, hides in the bushes, fights with an invisible enemy.

Bo tells Grace and Roger that he needs to go to the funeral urgently. However, they answer that this will have to be postponed: the guest can barely stand on his feet. Tony keeps track of the conversation by recording it on his smartphone.

In the evening, the couple put together a puzzle in the form of a portrait of their dead son. Going to bed, Bo tells Tony that he is ready to switch rooms with her – he still has to leave soon. She responds with rudeness. At night, Tony approaches the trailer in which Jeeves sleeps. She probably complains to him about Bo, because the interlocutor immediately looks through the window in his direction. Under the gaze of the hero takes the figurine-gift and hides it in his pocket.

The next day, the couple announce that Bo will have to postpone the trip to her mother’s house for another day – both Grace and Roger have urgent business at work. The hero tries to object, but in the end agrees. The couple leave. Grace says goodbye to Bo to drink plenty of water. She also leaves a note on the table with the words “Stop compromising yourself.”

Nathan LaneThe role of Roger was played by Nathan Lane. Frame from the film.

Bo comes up with the idea to use Tony’s laptop to learn more about his mother’s death. On the Internet, he finds a report about the accident that happened to Mona Wasserman. One of the interviewers is Elaine Bray, a subordinate of the deceased. This woman is the grown-up girl in the photograph in Bo’s house. The hero is shocked. It vomits right on the laptop. Immediately, an angry Tony appears and tells Bo to go with her. In the car, she makes him smoke a weed cigarette. Bo panics, but complies.

The hero sees an episode from his childhood. He is on a cruise ship talking to his mother about a maid named Martha, whom he misses. Bo draws attention to the girl – the same Elaine. A little later, she discovers a dead man in the pool and calls the boy to look. This is how acquaintance happens. Elaine is here with her domineering mother who left her cheating husband.

Mona talks to her son about her interest in Elaine, first on deck, then in bed in the cabin. The mother says that men are blind, and women know women well, so she can give good advice.

Bo is talking to Elaine. From the conversation it becomes clear that since childhood the hero has been obsessed with thoughts about the dangers lurking in the surrounding objects. He also tells his girlfriend about his rare genetic condition: his father and his male ancestors died during their first sex. Children kiss. A little later, Elaine breaks into Bo and Mona’s cabin. She says that her mother is taking her off the ship. Elaine makes Bo promise that he will be waiting for her, and leaves the same photo with a caption.

Waking up from his memories, Bo discovers that Jeeves tried to attack him, but the couple arrived in time.

The next day, Grace hints to a guest, “There’s always someone who looks up to you and loves you, knowing what you’re going through.” She is interrupted by Roger. Before leaving, she whispers to Bo to turn on channel 78 on the TV. This channel broadcasts live video directly from this room. Bo scrolls the footage backwards, then forwards, and sees several episodes of future events that will still occur in the film: the appearance of Tony, the conflict with Grace, the exit to the road, the arrival at the mother’s house, the accident on the boat.

Bo in the night snowfallFrame from the film.

Tony enters with cans of paint and drags Bo into Nathan’s room. There she takes pink paint and begins to smear her blue wall, displaying the name of the guest. Tony then opens the second jar, now filled with blue paint, and demands that Bo drink it with her. At the same time, she accuses the man of pretending to be an orphan, thereby failing a certain test. Tony drinks paint and dies. Grace bursts into the room. Seeing her dead daughter, she goes berserk, screaming that she has replaced her son with a demon, and attacks Bo. He is forced to flee into the forest. Watching the scene is Jeeves, who is called upon by Grace to catch up and destroy the fugitive. In the woods, Bo stumbles and passes out.

A short fragment from a recurring dream and a mountain comes to life. Wandering through the forest, he meets a pregnant girl in a green dress. She leads him to the campground of the community of itinerant theatrical actors, at the entrance to which signs are fixed on the trees with the words “Nothing more” and “Follow the rainbow until you find your dream.” The girl tells one of the members of the community that Bo had an accident, that his mother recently died, and his father died before birth. Someone recites: “Cupid will get here with an arrow or a trap.” The other two actors rehearse a dialogue in which they discuss where the roads lead at the crossroads. The girl introduces Bo to the entire community, which she calls the “Orphans of the Forest”. Someone adds: “However, many here are abandoned by their parents who did not bother to die.”

The performance begins. One of the members of the community gives Bo the costume, saying that the line between actor and viewer is blurred here.

Meanwhile, an angry man in camouflage and with weapons is rushing through the forest. He is holding a smartphone that appears to be monitoring the signal transmitted by the device on Bo’s leg.

Amy RyanAmy Ryan starred as Grace. Frame from the film.

The curtain opens and we see the hero approaching the tombstones of his father and mother. He complains that with the death of his parents, he lost his former self. The scenery of the seasons changes on the stage and an angel girl appears. She says that the hero has mourned enough and it is time to move on. The character is confused, he does not know whether to go forward, but immediately says: “If I stay, I will die.” Deciding to move, he notices that he is chained. They give him an ax, and he cuts the chains, which, according to the angel, were always on him.

Now Bo becomes a character in a play who has chosen to walk the path of life. And the play itself turns into a cartoon. Voice-over accompanies the action. He tells how the character Bo found “his village” after years of wandering. In it, he learned blacksmithing, built a house, cultivated the land, fell in love with a woman, married her, they had three boys. The narrator even mentions a psychotherapist with whom Bo shared his successes as part of the play. The story continues: one day the village is washed away by a flood, and the character Bo is somewhere very far away. For years and even decades, he wanders. Everywhere he is considered an outcast. In one of the villages, he is even mistaken for a criminal and put in prison, from where he escapes.

At the end of his wanderings, having become a decrepit old man, the character Bo meets a girl who says that he is mired in his pride and he needs to repent. Having fulfilled this requirement, the hero immediately finds himself at his village. There he comes to a performance in which his three adult sons play themselves. They recognize their father, hug him and cry. The sons ask old man Bo if they have any other relatives. He tells them about his mother and the death of his father. Bo, repeating Mona’s words, says that his father died during the first sexual intercourse and the same thing awaits him as the bearer of the family curse. The sons are surprised – they do not understand how they were born then. Bo is also dumbfounded by this inconsistency. At the moment of this realization, he again becomes a fifty-year-old spectator of the performance of the forest theater, on the stage of which the trial of the character takes place.

fabulous waterFrame from the film.

Bo is bad. A pregnant girl in a green dress, who brought him to the theater, gives him water. Bo takes out a statuette-gift from his pocket and gives it to the girl. A strange man appears nearby, who claims that the hero’s father is alive and he knows him. Noticing the sensor on Bo’s leg, the stranger leaves. There are shots and explosions. The enraged warrior we saw earlier in search of a hero shoots at everyone in a row. Bo runs away, stumbles upon a trap, and falls unconscious.

Sleep again. The hero sits in the bathroom and sees how his mother scolds him, the boy. Mona locks her son in the attic and tells the watching Beau that they will never remember him again.

The hero comes to his senses already during the day. He gets out of the forest, catches a car and arrives at his mother’s house, where her funeral has already taken place. Inside lies a decapitated corpse and a recording of a eulogy is played, after which Mona’s favorite song, a Bread composition called “Everything I own”, is turned on. Bo goes downstairs to the music and looks at the family photos hanging on the walls. On most of them he himself in different years of childhood. And one is a picture taken recently during that same telephone conversation with the postman.

Many photos of Bo-baby are accompanied by advertising slogans, the meaning of which is to illustrate maternal care: “Totally safe – at the perfect price”, “Your safety is our job”, “Allergy cure is on the way.” There are also many images on the wall related to Mona’s Big W business. Among them is a large portrait of her, made up of numerous photographs of employees.

Parker PoseyElaine is played by Parker Posey. Frame from the film.

Bo lays down on the couch and falls asleep. After a while he wakes up and hears a woman’s voice. At this time, a musical composition is playing: “Isn’t a Pity” performed by Nina Simone. It turns out that the voice belongs to Elaine, who made a mistake with the time of the funeral. Bo recognizes her. He says that he has been waiting for her all this time. The woman is surprised: she forgot about her request made on the ship before leaving. Bo kisses Elaine and she drags him back to the house, calling it the dragon’s lair. Lying down in bed, the woman turns on the song performed by Mariah Carey “Always Be My Baby”. The hero has sex with Elaine. Bo tries to delay the moment of orgasm, realizing that immediately after it, in accordance with the family curse, he must die. This does not happen, but Elaine dies.

Immediately, a living and healthy Mona Wasserman appears on the threshold of the bedroom. She rebukes her son and orders her servants to remove the dead body. It turns out that Mona faked her own death. Her decapitated corpse was that of the maid Martha, who agreed to give her life in exchange for a lot of money for her family.

Mona accuses her son of coming up with ridiculous reasons not to visit his mother. Along the way, she recalls other disgusting episodes from Bo’s childhood. The mother complains that the son always portrayed a good boy and asked what he should do, as if he had no choice. Mona remembers her mother, who showed absolute indifference towards her. She tried to be the complete opposite, struggling to love and provide everything necessary for her son.

Mona plays a recording of Bo’s conversation with a therapist. In it, he told how in childhood he tried to show individuality and independence, but his mother stopped these attempts. Bo also said that Mona demanded to reciprocate her love, but no matter what he did, it was always not enough.

A smiling psychotherapist Jeremy Freen enters the house and the mother reports that he gave her about three hundred recordings of sessions. Mona turns on another one in which Bo tells her annoying dream. As we have already seen, in it the mother locks the boy in the attic in response to a request to tell her about his father.

main character in the hallwayFrame from the film.

While listening to the tape, Bo screams that he still wants to know the truth. Then Mona takes her son to the same attic, saying that a dream is not a dream at all, but a memory. There, Bo sees a thin overgrown man shackled. Just then, he hears a terrible groan. In front of Bo is an evil monster in the form of a huge male genital organ. A warrior breaks into the attic, breaking the glass, chasing the hero in the forest. He shoots at the monster and slashes it with a knife, but it easily cuts him off.

The stairs down open and a terrified Bo rolls down it from the attic. The therapist drags him to his mother, who tells Bo, “I didn’t want you to know. It was your father.” The hero cries, asking for forgiveness from his mother and promising to improve. Mona, in response, reproaches him again, calling him a narcissistic and ungrateful boy. Listening to endless accusations, Bo suddenly grabs his mother by the neck and strangles her until she falls dead.

At the end, Bo leaves the house, gets into a motorboat and sets sail. He swims into a cave, where the motor starts to rattle. Suddenly it turns out that Bo is in the pool in the center of the stadium. There are a lot of spectators around. On the podium, Bo sees a living mother again. Beside her is her attorney, Harold Cohen, who voices the allegations against Bo. It covers some of the events that happened to the hero in recent days, as well as episodes from childhood. All Bo’s actions are interpreted as an unwillingness to do good in principle and a desire to do harm specifically to his mother. The hero’s defender on the opposite podium tries to object, but these remarks are not taken into account. As a result, he is completely thrown into the water.

Cohen makes a final accusation: Beau gave a statuette meant for his mother to a girl in the woods. The speech is cut off. From the hands of Mona, a handrail falls into the water, for which she was holding. The boat starts to sink. Bo, whose leg is stuck, desperately asks for forgiveness, but to no avail. The motor burns and explodes. The boat capsizes, Bo sinks. The spectators disperse.

The meaning of the film Beau Is Afraid

Beau Is Afraid is a truly multi-layered picture, overflowing with hidden meaning. In order to fully reveal all its mysteries, without the help of the director, perhaps, none of the authors of numerous reviews can cope. But you can get the gist of the film. This story is about a hypochondriac hero’s attempt to separate from his mother, who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. The process of such a separation (not necessarily related to mentally ill people) is called separation in psychology.

More precisely, Beau Is Afraid tells, rather, about the situation within the Jewish family (the director himself is from such a family), when the separation did not occur. There is only a desire to accomplish it, manifested simultaneously in the love and hatred of the son for his mother.

The topic of separation in psychology was one of the first to be raised and considered in detail by the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. It’s funny that in the original title of the film Beau Is Afraid sounds very similar to “Beau Is Freud”.

What’s real and what’s not in All Bo’s Fears is hard to figure out. Probably almost everything that is shown in the film takes place only in the head of the character. In reality, the hero, perhaps, is far from such a hypochondriac, afraid of almost everything in the world. But we see all of Bo’s fears through the lens of his imagination. Nothing supernatural happened in the real world. Obviously, Bo was just going to once again go to his narcissistic mother and experienced terrible discomfort about this. And yet he showed up. She once again skillfully manipulated Bo, finally plunging him into an all-consuming sense of guilt.

Now let’s try to make out the meaning of at least the main plot branches of Beau Is Afraid and individual characters.

Stephen HendersonSteven Henderson stars as the general practitioner. Frame from the film.

Names and surnames

The film begins with the birth of the hero from the womb, whose last name is Wasserman. This surname consists of two words: “water” (“wasser”) and “man” (“mann”) and is translated as “water seller”. Note that water is constantly present in the film. It appears when Bo submits to maternal power, or rather, to imposed guilt. For example, the hero takes a bath immediately after learning about the death of his mother. In the bathroom, Bo is also in his recurring dream. A strange drug (in reality, a drug with that name does not exist), prescribed by a psychotherapist and, it seems, being a symbol of manipulation, should be taken only with water. Grace, who in many ways acts as a conduit and relay of Mona’s will, demands that Bo drink more water. In the finale, the accused hero completely drowns in the water.

In general, all the names in the film are speaking. So, the name Bo (Beau) is translated from French as “beautiful.” It is clear that the mother in many ways tried to replace her husband with her son. We are repeatedly hinted at the unhealthy sexual aspect of Mona and Beau’s relationship (for example, the scene in bed in the cabin).

The name Mona in Italian sounds like the appeal “my lady” (mona as an abbreviation for mia donna). And indeed, she behaves quite imperiously. Mona’s husband’s name was Harry – we see this name on a sign in the Wasserman house. In turn, it is formed from the German Heinrich (Haimric), consisting of two words: “house” (“haim”) and “power” (“ric”). Naturally, in the role of “ruler of the house”, the narcissistic Mona did not want to see anyone but herself and probably drove away or even killed her husband.

The therapist’s name is Jeremy. This name is derived from the biblical Jeremiah, which translates as “God will deliver.” The surname Frin is also consonant with the word “freedom”. Indeed, Jeremy takes on the role of God’s mediator, or even God himself, receiving confessions from Bo.

cleansing embraceFrame from the film.

Mona’s attorney and prosecutor at trial is Harold Cohen. The name is derived from the Old English Herawald, consisting of two words: “army” and “strength”. The Jewish surname Cohen (Cohan) comes from the name of the class of clergy in Jerusalem. Harold behaves, indeed, as a priest endowed with power and strength.

Roger and Grace, portrayed as Bo’s alternate family, also have meaningful names. The name Roger consists of two Germanic words: “glory” (“hrōd”) and “spear” (“gēr”). The name Grace is of Latin origin, meaning grace or grace. In fact, they are some kind of reference designations for male and female entities. The name of the deceased son of Grace and Roger Nathan is of Jewish origin and translates as “given by God.” And Tony is short for Antonina. This name comes from the Greek “antao” – “opposing”. Indeed, Tony takes on the role of Bo’s enemy.

The name Elaine has Celtic roots and translates as “shining” – it was not in vain that she charmed Bo.

The name of a pregnant girl who met the hero in the forest and invited her to the community is interesting. Her name is Penelope. According to ancient Greek mythology, this is the wife of Odysseus, who in the poem “Odyssey” wandered for a long time, trying to return to his homeland. But it is precisely such wanderings that occur in the cartoon and theatrical production.

Richard KindRichard Kind as Jeeves. Frame from the film.

Beau Is Afraid Plot Summary


On her way to visit her mother, Bo buys a gift that symbolizes their inextricable bond. Until the middle of the film, the hero does not part with the figurine, but in the forest he gives it to Penelope. This fact is interpreted in court almost as Bo’s worst sin and becomes the last straw for the death sentence to be implemented. Why? Probably because Bo thus symbolically transformed maternal love into love for a woman. Note that Penelope is dressed in a green dress, like a young Mona, and embodies care and love.

Strange personalities

In the first part of the film, the hero is constantly pursued by marginal and generally strange personalities. Their actions are incomprehensible. The point here is that they are the embodiment of all Bo’s fears about other people.


The hermit spider that lives in the apartment building is a reference both to Bo himself, who leads a hermitic lifestyle, and to his mother, who weaves her intrigues like a web.


A circumcised naked maniac, which is talked about in the news and who ultimately injures the hero, is one of the symbols of the hypertrophied masculinity. The same symbol, only much more frightening, is the monster in the attic. This is nothing but motherly demonized masculinity. Mona did not want Bo to look like her father (by the way, we note that almost nothing is known about him – even his face in the photograph in Bo’s apartment is blurry). She suppressed everything male in him. However, this did not prevent her from simultaneously demanding from her son that he show determination and independence.

After an accident and a skirmish with a maniac, Bo is allegedly adopted by the family of Roger and Grace. This is probably exactly what the hero constantly does in reality. He wants to separate from his mother, but at the same time he tries to replace his parents with other people who show sympathy for him. In fact, he is just a child. Tony is in many ways a reflection of Bo – she rebels against her parents and at the same time craves love from them, which she did not receive. And, of course, she sees a rival in a fifty-year-old infantile man. We also note that in this family, a son, who is the embodiment of masculinity, died during a military operation. In a way, Jeeves replaces him. But his masculinity is absolutely destructive.

bearded old manFrame from the film.


The episode with paint symbolizes another distorted perception of the male and female principles by the hero. Note that Tony paints the blue (a color traditionally associated with boys) walls of his dead brother’s room with pink (a color associated with girls). At the same time, she writes her name Bo, making it clear that he is essentially a girl. He could not become anyone else, being raised exclusively by a mother who demonizes men. To literally infuse Bo with a little bit of masculinity, Tony invites him to take a sip of blue paint. When he refuses, the girl drinks it herself, but receives a “lethal dose of masculinity” and dies.


Members of the Orphans of the Forest community help Bo see a different life – one that he could live if he cultivated masculinity in himself. This unfulfilled dream in his daydreams (“beyond the rainbow”), in which “there is nothing superfluous.” However, the maternal water element (flood) bursts into it, which breaks the idyllic picture and makes the character suffer and wander the world for many years.

The performance showed Bo the possibility of another path (no wonder the actors talked about the crossroads), choosing which he could break the chains of destructive maternal love that bind him.


Chasing Bo and attacking the monster of a warrior is another demonstration of distorted masculinity. This character is very similar in behavior to Jeeves. Both of them demonstrate a kind of furious, warlike, but in many ways useless and destructive male essence. Perhaps they are the embodiment of stupid and stupid male behavior – such as Bo himself perceived under the influence of his mother.


The musical compositions that sound in Mona’s house are interesting. First we hear “Everything I own” – “Everything that I have.” This is a song about the desire to give everything for the return of a dear person. When Elaine arrives, “Isn’t a Pity” plays – “Isn’t it annoying?”, A song about taking love for granted and not wanting to give. And finally, during the sex scene, “Always Be My Baby” plays – “Always Be My Baby”, a song about two loving hearts being one. Here, of course, there is a double bottom: “Baby” is both a traditional appeal to a lover, and literally a “child”. This song most of all reflects the relationship between Bo and Mona. Yes, and the bed scene is also great. Director Ari Aster said that he scripted this composition long before he acquired the rights to it.

Zoe Lister JonesZoe Lister Jones as young Muna. Frame from the film.

mother murder

The scene with Elaine and subsequent events are intended to demonstrate what power a mother really has over her son. Mona’s possibilities are truly endless – a real “Big W” (“Big Woman” – “Big Woman”, as her company is called). She easily destroys those for whom her son had warm feelings: be it Elaine, the maid Martha or the father.

And Mona does this not with her own hands, but indirectly. In the real world, this probably manifests itself in subtle manipulations. The mother controls the life of her son, not giving a single chance to prove himself as a man or just a person with the right to choose. All this leads to an act of desperation on the part of Bo – he kills Mona.

Beau Is Afraid Ending explanation

The meaning of the ending of the film Beau Is Afraid is as follows: after the last manifestation of defiance of his mother, Bo completely absorbs the feeling of guilt, which symbolizes water. On a boat, he swims into a cave – a metaphor for returning to the mother’s womb. In fact, Mona takes Bo to her, finally and irrevocably. This explanation of the ending is logical, given the final accusations that refer to the events shown earlier. Once again, we note that all this, obviously, takes place in the head of the hero. In reality, most likely, there were no deaths. It just happened that Bo completely obeyed his mother, after which he never again tried to argue with her and behave like a strong and independent man.

disaster recoveryFrame from the film.

Similar films

  • Hereditary (USA, 2018): debut feature by Ari Astaire;
  • Midsommar (USA, Sweden, 2019): another feature film by Ari Astaire;
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (USA, 2020): arthouse puzzle drama;
  • Men (UK, 2022): surreal horrors about the relationship between men and women;
  • The Science of Sleep (La science des reves) (France, Italy, 2006): a surreal comedy about the world of dreams intertwined with reality;
  • Mr. Nobody” (Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, USA, France): a feeble old man in a futuristic world talks about his life;
  • The Curious Case of Mr. Button” (USA, 2008): the story of the life of a man who was born an old man and is getting younger every day;
  • Mother!” (USA, 2017): A surreal thriller from Darren Aronofsky.

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