The animal essence in each of us: the ideas and symbols of the film Beast.
Beast (2017): meaning plot analysis, description of the film, explanation of the ending.
Genre: thriller, drama
Year of production: 2017
Directed by: Michael Pierce
Actors: Jesse Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James
tagline: “It’s stronger than you!”
What will happen if you constantly suppress the unbridled inner “beast” in yourself, how destructive can its exit from the cage become? The talented British director Michael Pierce tried to answer this question. The plot and meaning of the film Beast can be called unsettling. The picture is a frightening conversation about the fact that each of us has a sleeping animal, and that we are much more complex and dangerous than we think.
What is the movie about
Brief description of the content of the film Beast. In the center of the plot is a girl named Moll, who lives in Jersey with her parents. The situation in the family is not easy: the domineering, abusive mother does not put the girl in anything, and the father, who suffers from dementia, needs constant supervision. Mall, working as a guide, lives quite closed. The situation on the island is very disturbing: it is terrorized by an elusive maniac who rapes and kills young girls. Police have no suspects yet.
Jessie Buckley played the role of Moll. Frame from the film.
On her 27th birthday, relatives throw a party in honor of Moll, but she quickly ceases to be the center of attention – in the midst of the holiday, her sister announces her pregnancy.
Seriously offended by the family, Moll furiously pulls out the hair growing on her throat and greatly irritating her and goes to a nightclub. There she has fun in the company of the first person she meets and even teases him. At dawn, he, confident that their flirting will result in something more, persistently tries to deepen their acquaintance. Remembering the maniac, Moll is seriously frightened. She is rescued by a passer-by with a rifle in his hands. A handsome young man is called Pascal, he is a hunter and his main prey is hares. A spark flares up between them and a relationship soon develops.
The rich and by the standards of the island elite family of Moll Pascal do not like it, but the girl, tired of the toxicity of relatives, does not care: the most important thing is that the guy with whom she has a lot in common (he also had a problematic relationship with his mother in the past) likes her.
Gradually, Pascal and Moll get closer, and he introduces her to hunting. Realizing that she trusts him, she tells a dark secret from the past: while still at school, she stuck scissors in the cheek of her classmate who bullied her. But Pascal is not embarrassed by this, and he promises that he will always support her.
Meanwhile, the police discover another body. The girl was killed on the night of Moll’s birthday party. Detective Clifford, investigating the case of the Jersey maniac, suspects that Pascal was involved in the murders. He informs Moll about this, which he likes. He warns the girl that even if her lover is innocent, he is still not who he claims to be: at a fairly young age, he abused a fourteen-year-old girl.
Johnny Flynn as Pascal. Frame from the film.
Without blinking an eye, Moll provides her friend with an alibi – she tells the detective that she and Pascal were together that terrible night. However, the idea that the kind, gentle and sympathetic Pascal can really be involved in terrible murders haunts her. She tells Pascal about the suspicions of the police, to which he, seriously angry, replies: there is no point in all these accusations – he did not rape the girl, it was sex by mutual desire. After cooling down a bit, he tells Mall about his feelings for her, and she realizes that she, too, feels something more than sympathy for him.
After a while, they become even closer, because of which Moll openly conflicts with his family and eventually moves to live with his lover.
Suddenly, the police burst into the house at night. The detectives arrest Pascal in connection with the girl murders and interrogate Moll. She continues to lie, providing him with an alibi, and Detective Clifford accuses her of covering for a possible maniac.
While Pascal is in prison, Moll, who is beginning to be tormented by nightmares, will face a difficult test – to resist the pressure of family, society and the media and try to come to terms with the past. She finds a former classmate – the same one that she stabbed with scissors many years ago. Moll sincerely tries to apologize to her, but she sends her away. After that, she offers to help the mother of one of the girls killed by the maniac, but she, seeing her as an accomplice of the killer, puts her out of the door.
Near the end of The Beast, Detective Clifford informs Mall that the police have caught the real maniac and apologizes to both of them. By unequivocally letting the girl know that he likes her, the policeman still insists that Pascal is a bad choice.
Explanation of the ending of the picture. Left alone, Pascal and Moll celebrate the dismissal of charges against him. The girl invites him to leave, to which he reacts unexpectedly violently. She tries to get her way, which causes him to lose control of himself and raise his hand to her. Immediately coming to his senses, he tries to apologize, but Moll runs to Clifford and confesses to him that she lied to the investigation. The shocked detective asks her to leave.
Comparing all the facts, Moll realizes that Pascal is indeed the same maniac. Having met him in a restaurant by the sea, the girl persuades him to admit his guilt and assures him that even despite this, her feelings are unchanged.
Pascal is perplexed at first, but then indirectly confesses to the murders and utters a strange phrase: “They meant nothing to me.” Mall accepts this and they return home in her car. Suddenly she asks to kiss him. When he complies with her request, she suddenly jerks the steering wheel and pushes him out of the car. Returning, she sees that he is lying on the road. Seeing her, Pascal asks for help, assuring that they are smeared with the same world. Moll objects to him: “no, we are not the same,” after which he calmly finishes him off and leaves.
According to most viewers, the meaning of the ending of the film “The Beast” is rather ambiguous. One can, of course, assume that Pascal is indeed the same maniac from Jersey who, having evaded responsibility, simply got what he deserved. Some believe that the guy (of course, mentally unstable and prone to violence) simply slandered himself, because he too loved the also not very healthy Moll pressing on him.
There is also such an interpretation of the finale in the analysis: Pascal is really a killer. But he is also a hunter. Having met Moll, he was sure that he had met a victim – a hare. But the harmless animal turned into a fierce Beast that killed him. The point is that she found a scythe on a stone: a greater evil was found for evil.
The role of Hilary was played by Geraldine James. Frame from the film.
The meaning of the film
The most important scene in The Beast is the final conversation between Moll and Pascal. The girl is ready to believe in the possibility of a bright future with him. She is sure that he was mentally ill, but now he has recovered and will not kill anymore. But in order to recover, you need to undergo treatment, and Pascal never turned to a doctor for help. Probably, Moll is ready to believe in a lie, if only the person she loves assured her that the nightmare is over.
“It’s all over,” Pascal assures her, adding: “They were nothing to me.” What can be the conclusion? Probably, Pascal really killed all these girls, but at the same time he is still not a maniac. He was truly in love with each of them.
As a mentally ill person, prone to idealizing people, he soon became disillusioned with all his lovers. It can be assumed that by killing them, he took revenge on them for the fact that they did not justify his hopes. There was a hidden meaning in his actions: probably, in this way he took revenge on his mother, who a long time ago also did not justify his hopes by abandoning him.
Why did Moll kill Pascal? Perhaps she, knowing full well who he was, could not forgive him in advance for something that would not always be the center of his universe. But there is another interpretation: the whole thing is also in the animal essence of the heroine.
The picture often focuses on smells: in the world of the Mall, they are pleasant and unpleasant, attractive and repulsive. She also found Pascal by smell. As did he her. And before her, others. She understands that, perhaps, she and Pascal will part in the future and he will have someone else. She cannot stand this and, thinking like a typical unbalanced owner (“Don’t get it for anyone”), she stains her hands with the blood of her lover.
Frame from the film.
But who is the Beast here – Pascal or Moll? The starting point for the plot was the real story of the “Jersey Beast”. But the director consciously plays with the audience. On the one hand, the name of the film contains the nickname of a real maniac, and on the other hand, he made a movie about something completely different.
There is such a thing as a “controlling idea” – in cinema it is she who answers the question, what is the essence of the film. Other meanings are just notes. The story of the maniac and his victims is the backdrop in The Beast: from it Pierce took only the name of the killer, the scene and the emphasis on smells. However, the smells here are just an interesting artistic detail, symbolizing the attraction of the animal to the animal. That’s what the movie is about. Both he and she are the Beast.
If Pascal resigned himself to his nature, then Moll at the very beginning of the film tries to suppress his bestial nature. In one of the mise-en-scenes, she pulls out the hair growing on her neck, but then she accepts the book “Wild Animals and Birds” from her friend, finishes off the wounded hare and is more calm about the newly breaking hair.
Unloved by her toxic mother since childhood, Moll was a typical victim in school. This is what caused the bullying. However, in psychology prey and predator are often two sides of the same coin. After meeting with Pascal Moll, tired of being a victim, she turned to the society that rejected her on the other side. And became a Beast.
Beast is a peculiar interpretation of the fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood. And it is also a deep study of human nature, secret fears and desires. The picture balances at the intersection of genres: it is a psychological thriller, a detective story, a drama, and a melodrama. Thanks to this “mix” it becomes like an existential parable. Is there really a beastly essence dormant in each of us? Michael Pierce is sure that this is the case.
Frame from the film.
The film Beast does not have many analogues – it is very original. But here are some interesting films that are somewhat similar in meaning to it:
- “Vicious Games” (USA, UK, 2012). After surviving the death of her father, young India Stoker meets a mysterious uncle in her house.
- “Grey Lady” (USA, 2017). A Boston police officer arrives on a remote island looking for his partner’s killer.
- “Don’t tell anyone” (France, UK, 2006). Alexander’s wife died at the hands of a serial killer. Soon, two more corpses are found near the place where the girl died…