SXSW FILM 2012
By Don Simpson | March 17, 2012
Director: Christoffer Boe
Writer: Christoffer Boe
Starring: Nicolas Bro, Marijana Jankovic, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Oliver Gustav, Sofia Oskarsson, Benny Rokkjær, Jens Lindegaard, Brian Aahøj, Torben Ryttels, Niels Bo Frank Christiansen, Anton Poulsen
Writer-director Christoffer Boe’s Beast is an intimately intense portrait of a marriage as it manically vacillates between love and hate. The married couple in question is Maxine (Marijana Jankovic) and Bruno (Nicolas Bro). As Beast begins, Maxine and Bruno are blissfully in love, but time passes and suddenly their marriage is like a rowboat at sea navigating the crests and troughs perpetuated by a massive hurricane. But…what caused this storm?
Well, we can remember back to an early scene when Maxine cuts her finger. Sure, it is odd when Bruno sucks the blood from her cut and proceeds to romantically expound upon about how he has a part of Maxine inside him now. But things get even stranger when we witness Bruno slice the side of Maxine’s breast with a knife, slurping her blood from the gushing wound. Most surprisingly, Maxine does not seem to object. Immediately afterwards, Bruno howls like a…well…beast while admiring himself in the bathroom mirror. Ummm…
It seems for Bruno, the line between love and obsession is blurred beyond recognition. As Bruno tells his friend Valdemar (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), he desires to have Maxine inside him. The statement has countless connotations; for all we know, Bruno may literally want to consume Maxine. It seems Bruno has a taste for Maxine’s blood, what will stop him from moving on to her flesh and organs?
It seems Maxine has grown increasingly uncomfortable with their relationship (I wonder why?) and has decidedly commenced an affair with Valdemar. Just as Maxine and Valdemar plan to divorce their significant others, Bruno becomes alarmingly sick. Bruno is aware of Maxine’s secret relationship with Valdemar, and the painful sickness in his gut seems to be a physical manifestation of his fear of losing Maxine. Love has become an sickness for Bruno, and it has grown so severe that it now threatens to kill him. Well…and Bruno’s steady diet of blood, raw meat and alcohol only escalates his severe digestive problems. (Intercut frames of droplets of blood floating in a translucent liquid suggest that Maxine might be destroying Bruno from within.) Oh, and what the heck is that mysterious black liquid that emerges from between Maxine’s legs after having intercourse with Bruno? Has Bruno literally transformed into the titular beast?
Despite amazingly convincing performances by Nicolas Bro and Marijana Jankovic, Beast feels a bit slight and even somewhat one-dimensional. Boe has developed a very intriguing premise, but there is no follow through; and though Beast enjoys some sublime moments of shocking craziness, the plot often becomes frustratingly predictable. There is never any doubt regarding how Beast is going to end.