The opening scene of Beau is Afraid has been haunting me ever since I watched the movie. It's a scene that lingers, etching itself into my mind. Baby Beau, just born, emerges into a world of obscurity, surrounded by a nebulous red hue. Then, abruptly, he is dropped onto the floor, his mother's screams filling the air. This vivid imagery forces me to contemplate my own journey into existence. Perhaps, in that moment, I too was greeted by a disorienting swirl of colors, with that same nebulous red as my first glimpse of the world. It's a jarring and unsettling scene, one that places the world around me into a disconcerting context. From that point on, everything I perceive has evolved, blossoming from that enigmatic red. This notion echoes the wisdom found in Tibetan beliefs, where a flashing red light accompanies our journey towards death, drawing us inexorably towards it.
The online realm has been abuzz with reactions to Beau long before the film's official release, and opinions have been sharply divided. A viral audio recording even went so far as to predict that this movie would be a career-killer for its director, Ari Aster. Another point of contention was its lengthy runtime, which presented a personal challenge for me as someone who struggles with prolonged periods of sitting.
Yet, the true essence of Beau extends beyond its narrative material; it poses a profound examination of our relationship with media consumption itself. In an era dominated by rapid-fire video clips and fleeting soundbites, we find ourselves inundated with a relentless barrage of media throughout each passing week. We are bombarded by fleeting glimpses into the lives of countless individuals we will likely never encounter. Beau, however, demands that we break this pace, compelling us to engage in introspection and confront the inner workings of our own anxieties. The impact of this experience was so profound that I found myself momentarily disenchanted with movies after watching it. Slowly, however, the film began to grow on me, leading me to ponder the timeless question: “How many movies are simply too many movies?”
Within the landscape of film criticism, where speed is of the essence, there exists a challenging paradox. We are expected to swiftly deliver our verdicts while the movies are still fresh and relevant. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for a movie to settle within our minds and for our opinions to truly take root. At first glance, Beau may appear disconcerting, almost bordering on unwatchable. Yet, in retrospect, it demands our undivided attention, reaching far beyond its runtime. Although I have no intention of revisiting it, my admiration for Ari Aster has grown stronger than ever. This film redefines the very essence of the cinematic experience, provoking us to contemplate the very nature of our existence.
When all is said and done, amidst the vast array of movies, TV shows, and TikTok videos, what remains is that nagging voice within our minds, questioning the purpose and meaning behind it all. Beau engages in a profound dialogue with that inner voice, leaving an indelible mark. For this thought-provoking and even emotionally challenging experience, the movie is undoubtedly worth watching, even if it proves to be a traumatic journey.
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