Beast Beast – Film Review
Beast Beast boasts a tour de force performance from Shirley Chen as Krista in this coming-of-age narrative. The film developed from the short film Krista in which Chen also starred and was awarded the Best Acting in a Short Narrative at SXSW 2018. Beast Beast is the directorial debut of Danny Madden. Chen steals the scenes in Beast Beast with her captivating performance, which is the film’s redeeming grace, alongside having renowned actor Alec Baldwin as an Executive Producer and the Thunder Road production team on board.
Three teenagers’ lives merge in Beast Beast across three acts in a somewhat predictable manner. One of the teenagers, Adam, is a gun owner which provides that shift in the dynamic but lacks the depth to be wholly convincing and is therefore not as thought-provoking as might be intended.
Instead, it is Chen that captivates throughout the film with a tremendous acting range. Beast Beast contains the more intriguing scenes with Chen’s presence as Krista. Krista’s enthusiasm and joy at dancing and acting, within a theatre troupe, permeate the film and are delightful to watch; Chen’s energy prevents the film’s initial scenes from being uneventful. The camera pans to capture her performance and dynamic dance flourishes as a focal point and it would have been preferable for the film’s attention to remain on Krista.
Beast Beast’s diversion into the lives of Krista’s fellow students is an unnecessary distraction. Krista’s burgeoning romance with the new student Nito is a tenderly directed moment and subscribes to the boy meet girl tropes of many romantic comedies. Beast Beast differs in this regard by its montage of Krista and Nito’s blossoming affections without relying on dialogue to convey the emotions. Yes, at times there seems to be a music video influence but the immersive effect is engrossing whilst the obvious chemistry between Krista and Nito is on display.
Beast Beast’s cinematography ensures that the meet cute offers a new perspective within the genre and combined with a pulsating soundtrack ensures that the film’s youthful exuberance is captured. Beast Beast seems to rely on this energy to engage its audience which does not fully work given the lack of substance. The first two acts are aesthetically pleasing to observe but fall short of being impactful, which is key when focusing on Krista and Nito’s fellow classmate, Adam, who is firearms obsessed. These moments with Adam seem superfluous to Beast Beast’s plot which results in a rushed final third of the film. It is not entirely clear as to Beast Beast’s message surrounding the possession of firearms, following a tragic incident, which seemed to require further development to have the desired impact.
As previously mentioned, Chen’s performance is superb as she fluctuates from being a lovestruck teenager to becoming withdrawn and angry. The camerawork assists at such moments to convey such emotions using dance to re-create that overwhelming sensation for both the characters and audiences alike. The dance scenes coupled with Chen’s performance should keep audiences engaged despite the superficiality of the film’s plot.
Beast Beast attempts to explore topical issues surrounding teenage violence but is unable to deliver the level of depth required to tackle such subjects. As such, it fails to offer anything new within the discourse. Beast Beast’s perspective on the influence of social media within gun related incidents does warrant some food for thought but it feels too rushed to provide the film with the degree of intrigue that it needs. Greater directional clarity would have been preferable within Beast Beast to provide the film with that much needed cohesion.
Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Beast Beast on Digital Download 30 April 2021