What do you do when you’re hunted by the truth?
In Beast, Jaime Gray (newcomer Chad McKinney) is a boxer in the Philippines. After he and his father (Garret Dillahunt) make a costly error in judgment in order to win big with a bookie, Jaime is torn between running in fear and doing what is right. Beast is gritty, honest, and realistic as it takes us into the heart of the underground world of poverty in Manila.
But don’t think that Beast is just another ‘boxing movie’.
The directorial feature debut of brothers, Tom and Sam McKeith, the film uses the world of boxing as a backdrop for the characters and their emotional journeys. Demonstrating genuine chemistry between them, both Dillahunt and McKinney are up to the task and offer honest performances. Still, while Dillahunt’s work here is very strong and reveals a loving father (albeit one who is willing to compromise morally), it is McKinney who absolutely owns this film. While it’s common for a main character to dominate a picture, it’s another thing to spend virtually every second of the film with them, not only within the frame, but close-up. As we look constantly on his face, there is a heavy emphasis on his emotional well-being. (This would be a challenge for any actor, let alone a relative newcomer.) Despite the challenges, McKinney’s performance is remarkably believable and carries the film.
What’s more, Beast also serves as a powerful spiritual narrative as well. While faith is not directly addressed within the film, there is a strong sense within the film that guilt can only truly be dealt with wholly in the form of repentance and ownership of our actions. Here, Jaime is both ‘beast’ and ‘angel’, trying to find redemption while running from the truth. Throughout the film, we–and Jaime–are always fully conscious that he cannot erase the consequences of his actions without humbling himself. (Incidentally, there is even a solid prayer scene that might be the first one I’ve seen in a film that doesn’t come across as awkward or out of place.)
In the end, Beast is a film is actually less about sports and more about reaping what you sow. Filled with solid performances, the film is a strong character piece about a young man who is battling his own demons and taking responsibility for his actions. Although the film doesn’t currently have a release date set, I highly recommend you take note and check it out when you hear of it.
After all, it certainly packs a punch.
NOTE: STAY TUNED OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS FOR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS WITH STARS CHAD McKINNEY, GARRETT DILLAHUNT AND DIRECTORS TOM AND SAM McKEITH…
Starring Chad McKinney, Garret Dillahunt
d. Tom and Sam McKeith
**** (out of 5)