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Beau is Afraid (2023, Blu-ray, Library Rental) Review

Beau is Afraid (2023, Blu-ray, Library Rental) Review
« on: August 21, 2023, 08:39:44 PM »

Studio:  A24 and Lionsgate
Release Date:  7/11/2023
Rating:  R
Film Grade:  B-

The Story:  Beau Wassermann lives a life of paranoid fear.  The simplest tasks we take for granted each day are seen by him as fraught with danger.  What should be a carefree trip to visit his mother goes awry, and his life is changed forever.

My Take:  Writer/director Ari Aster made a splash with both horror fans and film critics with his first full-length film, Hereditary.  A tale that works on many levels, it included expertly constructed scenes that shocked, provoked, and tingled the audience with terror, all built around a family-centric plot that isn’t fully revealed until the end.

His next film was Midsommar, which also contained themes of family, but expanded to include community, customs, and culture.  A story that was a little less of a horror film, and one that moved more into the thriller genre with a touch of building terror, but which cemented Aster as a solid and skilled director.  Sadly, he announced it would be his last horror movie, as he didn’t want to be viewed with just that lens.

It was with this background that I was eagerly anticipating his latest film, only watching the trailer and skipping anything substantial about it to best avoid spoilers.  In line with that, I’ll only write in general about this movie.

Everything is seen from Beau’s perspective, often warped by paranoid delusions.  Careful viewing reveals this early on as we experience his world.  If you’ve seen any of the footage of today’s decaying urban environments, filled with zombie-like addicts shambling down the street covered in filth and garbage, as normal citizens cautiously make their way past potentially-violent residents you have an idea of what he deals with every minute of every day.

He's aided by a psychiatrist that offers him a new prescription that just may offer him the help he needs as he battles the daily delusions that dominate his existence. 

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you just can’t do something absolutely critical, but also basic?  For me, it’s dialing a phone, where I urgently have to make a vital phone call, but just keep frantically hitting the wrong buttons.  That feeling of helplessness, panic, anxiety, and fear is captured perfectly in this movie.  Mix in a bit of bitter dark humor, and you have a good idea of what the movie is going for.

Aster does a fantastic job of giving the audience a taste of Beau’s challenges.  Joaquin Phoenix, no stranger to playing characters with mental issues, does a credible and believable job of making Beau relatable to the audience.  This is not just a retread of his Joker performance, but something altogether different.

The rest of the supporting cast is huge, but Aster handles each of them with nuanced skill, none of them feel off or flat.  As was the case with his earlier films, even the small roles can have an impact on this movie.

As the film winds through various events, you’ll see a lot of the same themes/events shown in Aster’s earlier works.  While not exactly repetitive, they don’t feel as fresh as they did in his earlier works, which robs them of their impact.
Video:  This movie is filled with details, from the posters and graffiti lining the walls to advertising pieces and logos that dot the rooms.  The picture is sharp throughout and colors are presented in a very realistic, almost mundane, way, other than one segment that turns into a dream-like sequence.  Black levels appeared to be a bit bright to me, leaning toward gray, and there was some muddiness in darker scenes. 

Audio:  I greatly enjoyed the soundtrack to this film.  While it was just a 5.1 DTS-HD mix, it is engaging, with a few scenes that will work out your subs.  There was a lot of care taken into the sound design of the movie, and it worked really well with my HTP-1’s DTS Neural X upmixer.  Dialog is clear for the most part, although some of Phoenix’s lines can lean towards mumbling at some points, but it’s likely intentional.

Special Features: 

Finally Home: Making Beau Is Afraid

Final Verdict: 

Who is this movie for?  If you enjoyed either Hereditary or Midsommar, I’d say it’s worth checking out.  While this movie is not a horror film, it does have some frightening scenes, and fantastical imagery as presented from a delusional perspective.  If you haven’t seen either of those two, they’re both recommended watches.  They’re both better and more accessible for a general audience.

The film begs for a rewatch to catch all the details and nuance, but at just a minute under three hours, the movie is long.  A little too long.  While it captured my attention throughout, my wife felt differently.  She sat through the process, liked a lot of the events, but didn’t feel the payoff was worth it, so I’ll be on my own for any repeats.

This is an R rated movie for good reason, so may not be appropriate for mixed company, and certainly not for children.

Fun for AV Science Viewers:  There’s a scene early in the movie revolving around loud music and a later one featuring a hand-cranked subwoofer that you may well find amusing.

My Review System:
JVC DLA-RS3100 4K Ultra High-Definition Front Projector
Elite Screens Sable Frame B2 117” Width with Infinitely Variable Height
Monolith by Monoprice HTP-1 16 Channel Processor with Dirac Live
Monolith by Monoprice 7x200 Watts Amp
Monolith by Monoprice 3x200 Watts + 6x100 Watts Amp
JBL Studio 590 for Left, Center, Right, Wides, and Rears
JBL Studio 580 for Side Surrounds
JBL Studio SCS 8 for Tops
JTR Captivator 1400 Subwoofer X 4
Panasonic DP-UB420 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
NVIDIA Shield Android TV - 4K
Xbox One X
HTPC Running madVR (work in progress)
Remote: URC MX-780
Mini DSP 2X4 HD controlling all subwoofers
APC S15 Power Conditioner with Battery Backup:'(
My Room:  26’-1” X 17’-4” X 10’
Equipment:  Monolith HTP-1 feeding X7 and X9 amps, JVC RS3100, Elite Screens 135"", JBL Studio 590 for L, C, R, W, R, 580s for sides and four SCS8 for tops, JTR Captivator 1400 x 4, Panny DP-UB420K, Toshiba HD-A35. Nvidia Shield, Sonos Connect, MX-780 remote

See Youthman's actual tour of my room here: https://youtu.be/PHEaG2xKVhg


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Re: Beau is Afraid (2023, Blu-ray, Library Rental) Review
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2023, 08:40:09 AM »
Thanks for the review!
SadieMax 2,0 Build thread

Nad t758v3 
7.4.4 diysoundgroup 1099's (3) 
Volt 6 (8 ) 
18" SI subs (4) 
diy 130" 2.40 spandex screen
minidsp 2x4HD
JVC rs600
Lumagen radiance pro 4242
Nvidia shield pro
Emby NAS media player


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Re: Beau is Afraid (2023, Blu-ray, Library Rental) Review
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2023, 11:18:38 AM »
I'll be picking this up eventually to add to my " Mental Illness Awareness Month " film collection! 
Direct (585) 671-2972 8:00am - 4:30pm Pacific 
www.avscience.com  craig@avscience.com
We carry projectors, screens, speakers, receivers etc. !!
Twitter - @AVS_Craig Sacramento CA area

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