★★★

Settling down to watch The Beast, I was eager to see how this ambitious sci-fi tale would unfold. At its heart, the film delves into the complex theme of artificial intelligence, a subject that fascinates and terrifies us all in equal measure. It’s a theme that speaks volumes about our future, our fears, and our fantasies around what technology might one day achieve. While I hoped that I would be gripped from start to finish, I found the film to be a mixed bag. It presents a world that’s both startling and immersive, yet it couldn’t shake off the feeling that a bit of trimming could have made the narrative tighter and more engaging.

THE BEAST is in cinemas now. Photo © Carole Bethuel.

The Beast unfolds across three distinct timelines: Paris in 1910, Los Angeles in 2014, and a dystopian 2044 where artificial intelligence governs society. Central to these narratives is Gabrielle Monnier, portrayed by Léa Seydoux, a woman navigating her complex relationship with Louis across these eras. The settings range from a belle époque art salon to a modernist LA pad, each reflecting the evolving challenges and societal norms Gabrielle faces.

Gabrielle’s journey is marked by a series of rebirths and encounters with Louis, who appears in various forms, from a suitor to an incel. Their tumultuous relationship is explored through Gabrielle’s attempts at a purification process to erase her emotional past, a procedure that intertwines their fates more deeply. Each timeline brings Gabrielle and Louis together in scenarios laden with danger and emotional turmoil, culminating in intense climactic moments that challenge their very humanity.

THE BEAST is in cinemas now. Photo © Carole Bethuel.

The film delves into themes of dehumanisation, love, and fear of a technology-dominated future. Motifs such as dolls and pigeons symbolise the fragility and unpredictability of life. The narrative questions the cost of emotional suppression in a world increasingly leaning towards AI, highlighting the internal battles Gabrielle faces as she oscillates between past and present, grappling with whether to retain her humanity or succumb to a dispassionate existence.

Seydoux’s ability to convey deep emotional layers, from terror to resilience, underscores her versatility and adds a haunting depth to Gabrielle’s journey. George MacKay steps into the complex role of Louis, originally intended for Gaspard Ulliel. As we move through the film MacKay showcases a remarkable emotional range, from subtle yearning to intense self-loathing, providing a stark contrast to Seydoux’s Gabrielle. MacKay’s dedication, including mastering French to enhance his on-screen chemistry with Seydoux, notably enriches the film’s dynamic narrative.

THE BEAST is in cinemas now. Photo © Carole Bethuel.

The Beast stands as a testament to the joys and perils of cinematic exploration into the domain of artificial intelligence, reflecting a broad spectrum of human emotion against the backdrop of a technologically advanced society. My venture into this dystopian future, courtesy of Léa Seydoux and George MacKay’s profound performances, alongside Bertrand Bonello’s visionary direction, crafts a narrative that’s both immersive and thought-provoking. This film manages to captivate with its ambitious storytelling though it slightly falters under the weight of its own complexity and length. A trim could have rendered the film more concise without sacrificing its emotional and thematic depth, enhancing its overall impact and pace.

THE BEAST is in cinemas now. Photo © Carole Bethuel.

It’s apparent that the film expertly navigates the fine line between fiction and the plausible outcomes of our ongoing technological advances, encapsulating the essence of human fear, love, and resilience in the face of AI governance. While it may sway into the overly ambitious at times, its core message resonates firmly, inviting viewers to ponder the future of humanity intertwined with artificial intelligence. Despite its flaws, the film merits a watch for those who delight in speculative narratives that challenge our perspectives and emotions, embodying a piece of cinema that, while not without its excesses, provides a rich ground for reflection on our collective tomorrow.

The Beast is in UK and Irish cinemas now!

Watch the trailer for THE BEAST is in cinemas now.