Beau is Afraid: Ari Aster reflects on mixed reaction to the film

Beau Is Afraid writer/director Ari Aster reflects on the mixed reaction to the film, with some hailing it as a masterpiece and others… not.

It’s safe to say that the reaction to Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid was decidedly mixed. Some hailed the film as a masterpiece while others weren’t quite sure what the hell they had just watched. While speaking with Empire, Ari Aster reflected on the audience’s reaction to Beau Is Afraid, adding that he believes it’s a film that benefits from a second (or third) watch.

I do hope people return to it,” Ari Aster said. “It’s definitely a film that I think benefits from going back. I don’t think you quite know what it is until you’ve gone all the way through. I imagine that the second viewing would be hopefully rich in a way that the first one can’t. It’s designed to be wrestled with. I consider the film to be a picaresque, and I think part of that tradition is a certain irreverence towards the integrity of any sort of narrative structure. The film is designed to kind of shapeshift a lot.

Despite the mixed reaction, Aster remains proud of Beau Is Afraid. “I feel like it’s always kind of an unhealthy thing to sit in, the grappling with the release and the reception,” he said. “So I’m happy to be on the other side of it. But I would say that it’s the film I’m proudest of. I think it’s the best filmmaking that I’ve done. I love the film, and I really hope that people continue to find it.” The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a mild-mannered but anxiety-ridden man who must confront his darkest fears when he embarks on an epic odyssey back home following the death of his mother.

The movie gave our own Chris Bumbray plenty to think about. “If the movie is so well cast and brilliantly made, why isn’t it a masterpiece?” Bumbray wrote. “Aster is trying to make his David Lynch movie here, and while it chugs along nicely for a good hour or two, the last act is deadly. It begins to overstay its welcome, but in many ways, this feels like a calculation by Aster, as I’m not sure he even wants you to like the last part of the movie. Choices are made that seem like a deliberate effort to send people storming out of the theater, and indeed this seems bound to be one of those movies that nabs an F-CinemaScore, although I think it’s a distinction all involved will wear proudly. It isn’t easy to review, as it’s such a full meal that, even a week after seeing it, I’m still utterly baffled by it.” Bumbray ended his review by saying, “I reserve the right to come back to this review and adjust it to a 10 or a zero in the years to come.

Has your opinion on Beau Is Afraid changed since the first viewing?

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