Beau is Afraid was in production for three years before its release and the official premise reads:
'Beau Is Afraid is described as a decades-spanning surrealist horror film set in an alternate present in which Phoenix plays an extremely anxious but pleasant-looking man who has a fraught relationship with his overbearing mother and never knew his father. When his mother dies, he makes a journey home that involves some wild supernatural threats.'
As well as Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, the movie features an ensemble cast including Nathan Lane, Richard Kind Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan, Kylie Rogers, Parker Posey, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Hayley Squires, Michael Gandolfini and Zoe Lister-Jones.
It would be fair to say that a good portion of the audience didn't "get" what Aster was trying to do with this one as it was a melting pot of many different genres.
“The film ends on a theater just very gradually emptying out over the credits, with a very indifferent audience. I wasn’t quite ready for just how prophetic that ending was going to be,” he told Variety.
“One thing that excites me about ‘Beau’ is that there are certain things that I buried in that film that still haven’t been talked about.
“I was kind of disappointed by the way people were maybe engaging with the film on first release because it was very verdict-based like, ‘Well, it doesn’t all work.’ It’s like, ‘Well, wait, what doesn’t work?"
Aster does admit that Beau is afraid was experimental, but laments the fact that audiences didn't really emotionally connect to things.
“The film is an experiment in so many ways,” the director said.
“Even what he finds up in that attic is a very specific provocation. I’m deliberately blowing up the whole film. People talked about it as a letdown when clearly — yeah, that’s the joke! Interpret this, right?”
Beau Is Afraid
Comedy / Horror
2023 • 178 minutes