Léa Seydoux Gives Three Stunning Performances in ‘The Beast’ – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Léa Seydoux Gives Three Stunning Performances in ‘The Beast’

Courtesy of Kinology

To love is to feel, and to feel is to suffer—truths that become intricately intertwined across space and time in The Beast, the saga of a woman and a man linked by fate and connected across eras. Loosely inspired by Henry James’ 1903 short story “The Beast in the Jungle,” French auteur Bertrand Bonello’s latest is a decidedly unique sci-fi saga, and while its assortment of recurring images, conversations, scenes, and dynamics intermittently borders on the exhausting, it plays as an intriguing meditation on desire, dreams, and the things that make us who we are—and without which we’re lost.

“There must be beautiful things in this chaos,” says Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux) in The Beast. At that juncture, it’s 2014. However, following a prologue in which Gabrielle fends off an invisible adversary on a green-screen movie set, Bonello’s film (making its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival) initially situates itself in 1910, where Gabrielle is the pianist wife of well-to-do dollmaker Georges (Martin Scali). At a get-together at an opulent mansion, Bonello’s camera trails her—and occasionally assumes her POV—with silky elegance as she wends her way through patrons to an art exhibition room, where she encounters aristocratic Louis (George MacKay). As it turns out, they already met years earlier, when Gabrielle confessed her deepest, darkest secret to Louis: She’s gripped by a consuming fear that doom awaits her in the form of “a rare and terrible thing” that will “obliterate her.” This calamity is the figurative title creature and Louis, enchanted by the lovely musician, pledges to eternally protect her from it.

Thus, an illicit affair is initiated, albeit slowly, as The Beast takes its time with Gabrielle and Louis’ early twentieth-century amour. Co-written with Guillaume Bréaud and Benjamin Charbit, Bonello’s film abruptly jumps to 2044 to find an identical Gabrielle (Seydoux) being interviewed by an unseen artificial intelligence. Gabrielle wants a new job that will utilize her distinctly human characteristics, but in this distant future, mankind’s emotions have resulted in a catastrophic war from which society only recovered thanks to cool, rational A.I. So greatly does Earth’s computerized overlord value calm detachment that it now encourages individuals to undergo a DNA “purification” process that cleanses them of yesterday, today and tomorrow’s hang-ups, traumas and longings, including those experienced in past lives. Gabrielle reluctantly agrees to undergo this techno-neutering, yet upon entering the inky bath where it takes place (courtesy of a robotic arm and syringe), she hesitates, thereby allowing her to relive her former 1910 and 2014 incarnations.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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