To stream audio of my interview with Jessie Buckley and Michael Pearce, click here.
Director Michael Pearce brings us Beast, a pseudo ‘whodunit’, focusing mainly on the dark leading lady known as Moll (Jessie Buckley).
This chilling and often uncomfortable tale is set on the British Channel Island of Jersey, a stunning backdrop that is metaphorically stained by numerous unsolved rapes and murders.
The cinematography paints stunning color blocking from the first few seconds of the film and continues this until the final scene. The vibrant green of the mountains, blue of the ocean, and Moll’s striking red hair. This tale juxtaposes the beautiful island with its unsuspecting underbelly. The director and cinematographer were not afraid to pull emotion from the landscape, but didn’t force it if it didn’t cooperate. This brought a welcomed sense of realism to the film.
A woman of few words, Moll presents a seemingly innocent and somewhat sheltered girl. Clearly the black sheep in her family, we see Moll’s struggle to come to terms with her dark past. Their words and actions prove that Moll’s family do not consider her as equal.
Moll’s troubling and violent past seems to continue to manifest itself in her current life. Despite the urge to resolve and grow, Moll is being held back by her overbearing family, unforgiving victim, and struggles inside of her own head. We come to witness bouts of rage and violence. This, coupled with Moll’s past revelations, begin to make the audience wonder if this seemingly simple tour guide and choir singer is perhaps the most violent murderer on the island.
After an aggressive suitor almost attacks Moll, she is rescued by a passerby, Pascal. As we see Moll’s relationship with Pascal grow, we see that perhaps she is not only attracted to him because he saved her, but because she can finally be herself around him. No judgement. No knowledge of her past. They both have their quirks and are both accepting of each other.
Moll is a sad reminder of how our past can hold us captive and deny us the ability to grow and move forward. Moll desperately wants to crawl out of the hole that she feels so stuck in, but is constantly being pulled back in by her environment.
The one and only voice-over in the film discusses the majestic killer whale. When glazed over, this monologue may seem random, but the similarities between Moll and orca are nothing short of mind-blowing. Both feral creatures, they are brilliant yet often completely misunderstood. Both fairly undomesticated, they should not and will not be held captive. And they are both capable of horrific and frightening things. Hence, then, the title, Beast.