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"Beau Is Afraid" is a complete waste of three hours

Beau Is Afraid

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Nathan Lane, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan and Parker Posey. Written and directed by Ari Aster. Opens April 21 at Toronto theatres. 178 minutes. STC

⭐️ (out of 4)

Peter Howell

Movie Critic

Be very afraid, and not in a good way. Ari Aster shifts from the bright horror that brought him here, via "Hereditary" and "Midsommar," to a bleak Oedipal nightmare that throbs like a migraine for three lost hours. Joaquin Phoenix delivers his usual 110% but it's all for naught. He's the title dweeb, a monosyllabic NYC recluse who is afraid of his own shadow and who has a controlling mom (Patti LuPone) who makes Joan Crawford seem like Mother Teresa. Pyjama-clad Beau's goal is to get to his faraway mama's side, at her insistent demand, but everything conspires against this, from home-invading drifters to a knife-wielding naked man to a car crash and more. You know how some films have fantasy sequences? This one is mostly just one long and torturous fantasy sequence, along with a few flashbacks that feel like fantasy sequences. It's as if Darren Aronofsky, Gaspar Noé and David Lynch conspired to screw with the minds of everyone in the audience. "Beau Is Afraid" started as a short film by Aster. It should have stayed that way. 🌓


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