Beau is Afraid Parent Guide
The three hour runtime is punishing and the movie's overall weirdness isn't a great trade-off.
Parent Movie Review
Living in a dingy apartment next to a rundown porn theater in a dangerous part of town, Beau (Joaquin Phoenix) has legitimate reasons to be afraid. A nude killer prowling the neighborhood, a brown recluse spider loose in the building, and a tortured relationship with his mother, Mona (Patti LuPone), with whom he has planned a visit for the next day, are all valid causes for concern. But when Beau’s keys and luggage are stolen, things start spiraling downwards. He can’t make his flight to see his mother, but he can’t just stay in his apartment either.
The unexpected death of his mother soon renders the failed visit moot. Beau learns about her demise in a call with a distraught UPS driver who finds her body – and only her body, because her head has apparently been crushed by a chandelier. As his conditions become worse and far, far stranger, Beau is launched on a surreal and unsettling adventure which will force him to confront his own anxieties, his difficult relationships, and the mysteries that have surrounded him since infancy.
Kafka-esque doesn’t begin to cover the voluminous strangeness of this film. This is closer to Naked Lunch than it is to The Metamorphosis. Over the inexcusable and self-indulgent three-hour runtime, Beau is Afraid sets out to not only show you what Beau fears, but to make you fear losing your own mind. That’s not entirely fair – there were large sections of the movie that I found both interesting and enjoyable. There’s also a lot of bloat in there, hence the hideous runtime, but there are also a few choices that, frankly, did not make a lot of sense to me. I suspect I’ll arrive at some new conclusions as I sit with the movie, but I’m on a deadline here. This isn’t a film you’re going to get a good handle on right away.
It’s also packed full of some serious content concerns. The film doesn’t shy away from graphic violence, but it almost feels incidental to Beau’s strange quest - as does all the graphic nudity, drug use, and frequent uses of profanity. I’m not saying that the negative content is completely irrelevant to the plot, but the function of this material seems to be to make Beau’s trip as difficult and emotionally exhausting as possible (a feeling shared by the audience).
I’m not sure if I like this movie or not yet. What I am sure of is that its excessive length is unnecessary, and borders on self-indulgence. The movie’s bloat also renders it lacking in homogeneity, which makes for a curious viewing experience as you sift through the chunks of interesting and entertaining or unsettling and downright unpleasant material, like a bowl of oatmeal mixed with cat food. You can’t always tell which part is which until it’s already in your mouth.Directed by Ari Aster. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey, Amy Ryan. Running time: 179 minutes. Theatrical release April 21, 2023. Updated April 21, 2023
Watch the trailer for Beau is Afraid
Beau is Afraid
Rating & Content Info
Why is Beau is Afraid rated R? Beau is Afraid is rated R by the MPAA for strong violent content, sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language.
Violence: There are depictions of and references to suicide by various means. People are stabbed and shot on several occasions. A man’s eyes are gouged out. A character is struck by a car. Several dead bodies are seen, one of which is headless. People die in an explosion. A person is fatally strangled. A man is pushed from a great height onto a rock, killing him. A character is deliberately drowned.
Sexual Content: There are several instances of male nudity in both sexual and non-sexual scenes. A giant penis is seen. There is a graphic sex scene which includes female nudity. There are several instances of sexual dialogue.
Profanity: The script contains over five dozen profanities, including 40 sexual expletives, five scatological curses, and occasional uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Drug paraphernalia is seen. Teen characters smoke marijuana which is said to be laced with other narcotics, and another character is forced to ingest it. Peoples are seen abusing prescription medication.
Page last updated April 21, 2023
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If you enjoy films that are disquieting, surreal, and downright upsetting, you might enjoy Everything Everywhere All at Once, Men, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Birdman, Sorry to Bother You, The Lighthouse, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Swiss Army Man. Adult fans of Ari Aster’s work will want to watch his other films, HereditaryandMidsommar.