The Beast by Bertrand Bonello (dir) - review by Robert Pippin

Robert Pippin

Henry James Rebooted

The Beast

By

146 minutes
 

The latest film by Bertrand Bonello, The Beast, is inspired by Henry James’s 1903 novella The Beast in the Jungle. The setting has been changed from England to Paris in 1910, Los Angeles in 2014 and an unnamed Francophone locale in 2044, and the genders of the two central figures have been transposed. John Marcher, the character with a mysterious premonition that something fateful and potentially catastrophic will soon happen and that he must wait until it does, has become Gabrielle Monnier (played with great elegance by Léa Seydoux). The character who, having learned of Marcher’s premonition, has agreed to wait with him, May Bartram, is not a young woman but a young man, Louis Lewanski (played skilfully by the British actor George MacKay). 

But the film is much more a series of variations on James’s story and one of its themes, fear of love, than a straightforward adaptation. It is also an exercise in dystopian science fiction. The final section occurs after a worldwide disaster (human beings must wear a kind of mask when outside). An AI system now runs everything, and most people have to work in extremely boring and unsatisfying jobs unless they agree to undergo a

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RLF - March