April 18, 2024

REEL | Taming 'The Beast' – Léa Seydoux Purges Her Past Lives

"Fulfillment lies in the lack of passion."
Léa Seydoux Bertrand Bonello | The Beast (La Bête)
Janus Films / Maison 4:3
French director Bertrand Bonello loosely adapts Henry James' 1903 novella The Beast in the Jungle into his own near-future sci-fi romantic drama. The Beast (aka La Bête) stars Léa Seydoux as Gabrielle, a woman in the process of vividly purifying her DNA in a machine that plunges her into her past lives in the years of 1910, 2014, and 2044 to purge herself of any strong emotions, traumas, or feelings and fix the present.

George MacKay co-stars as Louis, Gabrielle's love interest, with whom she has a strong connection and shows up in every period she abstractly relives. Whenever they encounter each other, a disquieting passion lingers between them, teasing an intergenerational star-crossed romance told across different times and many lives. As they reunite over and over again, they become destined to be the true loves of all their lives. It's a transfixing, often dizzying exercise on the screen.

Seydoux's steely emotional coldness livens her intriguing character's sense of romantic intrigue. Spanning centuries while featuring some impeccable production and costume design, how The Beast reincarnates its twisty but sweeping relationship odyssey by switching film genres through its disorientingly trippy sequences, both mesmerize while layering a rejection of a doomed A.I.-dominated future.

The Beast screens at The Cinematheque.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Inverse / Polygon / Stir

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