Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.
I spent most of yesterday alone, after an exhausting week of ambivalent conclusions, and this made the dark and brooding Beast weirdly appropriate. The movie focuses on two outsiders, psychologically traumatised Moll and poacher Pascal Renouf, both inhabiting an island world of rugged coastlines, crashing waves, and an anally-retentive middle-class suburbicon. The isolation reminded me of two literary works, Iain Banks's Wasp Factory and Luke Sutherland's Venus as a Boy, of human ecosystems on cut off islands breeding all kinds of violence and social subversions and agitated adults trying way too hard to cling to order.
I really liked this film for its first half, thinking: this is like Bronte's Wuthering Heights, only better. Then it became too graphically disturbing, too much of a headfuck, as the works of a serial killer of young women combines with the dark back stories of Moll and her lover, leaving you appalled and bewildered. Is Moll psychopathic? Is her handsome, outsider lover? I've read elsewhere how the dynamics riff off of Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover with an overly-protected girl and the rugged poacher releasing her inner-animal, and I loved this dynamic in the opening half. Moll's mother is all edgy and domineering, descending into bullying and insensitivities that make you root for Moll to break away. The other men in Moll's life, it should be said, are wankers: ingratiating village policeman Clifford, and Moll's wet and petty brother Harrison. When gorgeously rough and sinewy Pascal enters her life with his rifle (no phallic symbolism, I'm sure), you want to see Moll whisked away a la Lady Chatterley.Of plot I won't say any more, because I recommend this film for its visual beauty and haunting portrayal of the unspeakable, be it repressed past experiences or the acts that shock and shake protagonists. File it, though, under films that fuck you up and leave you leaving your cinema unable to connect completely with the world around you, at least for a few minutes. I haven't used so many swear words in a review before, and I wonder if my unsettled mood is residue from an emotionally shattering week, or this emotionally shattering movie.