Beau is Afraid: A Unique Film


Beau Is Afraid is Ari Aster’s, the director of the popular psychological thrillers Hereditary and Midsommar, newest release. The film is an exploration of a paranoid man’s psyche, and examines the concept of living through one’s deepest subconscious fears. The film follows Beau (Joaquin Phoenix), an overly-anxious and paranoid man, on an unexpected and comedic journey as he tries to arrive home on time for his mother’s funeral. The movie takes place in a multitude of bizarre settings, from Beau’s dilapidated apartment in a city filled with crime and poverty, to the suburban home of a dysfunctional family, and to a forest-based theater company, filled with society’s “rejects.” This journey all occurs as viewers simultaneously encounter surreal memories of Beau’s childhood. 

After watching this movie, one will likely wonder, “What did I just watch?” However, it is important to remember, this isn’t a movie that has a secret message hidden in the plot, or is necessarily meant to be “solved.” If one simply immerses themselves in the story, and doesn’t try to pick apart the narrative too much, the underlying themes of fear, paranoia, and childhood trauma will start to emerge. Get caught up on details, and the plot will start to slip away. 

This movie is essentially a distorted version of the standard  “hero’s journey.” While watching, one can begin to see the different phases of this journey emerge, yet the way Beau’s story slowly descends into mayhem and madness is what makes this movie comical, tragic, and at certain points even frightening. Beau Is Afraid will be overwhelming to many, but at its core, it is unapologetically unique and brings new perspectives to life.