You could call Beast a mystery film about a serial killer. It’s about a woman called Moll, played by Jessie Buckley, who lives on the small island of Jersey. Moll has a very controlling family, so at 27 she’s still living at home. She meets a man called Pascal (Johnny Flynn) who appears to be a free-spirited stranger. It looks like it’s her first serious relationship, and Moll falls madly in love. But soon he is the key suspect in a series of very brutal murders. The whole island community is suspicious of him, but Moll chooses to stay with Pascal nevertheless.
It’s a good little movie, held together by strong performances from the two leads. Both Buckley and Flynn have been on-screen quite a bit before: Buckley appeared on high-end BBC dramas Taboo and the most recent version of War and Peace, whereas he made his name in Oliver Assayas’s films, including Clouds of Sils Maria.
It’s a twisty film that also features a strong love story—though obviously not the healthiest relationship on the planet. It takes some loose inspiration from a real-life case from the 1960s involving the killer Edward Paisnell, dubbed “The Beast of Jersey.” Both characters are clearly outsiders in the community, and a secondary theme is how small communities can shun outsiders with the result that they create their own worlds. Both characters do have a history of violence, and in some way this brings them together. It has a twist ending that you don’t necessarily see coming, culminating in a quite shocking climax. Director Michael Pearce is definitely one to watch is one to watch about this impressive debut.
The disc includes a commentary with Michael Pearce and Jessie Buckley. It was a Film4 production, so it also includes one of the ten-minute interviews that they use to fill gaps between films and adverts on their channel, with Pearce and Buckley.