Bertrand Bonello’s sensual epic love story “The Beast” is finally landing stateside. The French-Italian film stars Léa Seydoux and George MacKay as two lovers who find one another across centuries, in different times, places, and lives.
“The Beast” premiered at the 2023 Venice Film Festival and went on to screen at last year’s NYFF. Director Bonello told IndieWire’s Ryan Lattanzio at Venice that the film was rejected from the Cannes Film Festival, saying that the festival “didn’t like it.” “The best place for a film is where the film is wanted, and now we are doing, with this film, a huge fall release, so Venice, then Toronto, New York, Busan, stuff like that, so maybe it’s what’s best for the film,” Bonello said at the time.
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Loosely inspired by the 1910 Henry James story “The Beast in the Jungle,” the official synopsis for “The Beast” is as follows: “The year is 2044: artificial intelligence controls all facets of a stoic society as humans routinely ‘erase’ their feelings. Hoping to eliminate pain caused by their past-life romances, Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux) continually falls in love with different incarnations of Louis (George MacKay). Set first in Belle Époque-era Paris Louis is a British man who woos her away from a cold husband, then in early 21st Century Los Angeles, he is a disturbed American bent on delivering violent ‘retribution.’ Will the process allow Gabrielle to fully connect with Louis in the present, or are the two doomed to repeat their previous fates?”
Bonello also told IndieWire that he opted to mix sci-fi elements in with the romance mystery. “I chose 2044 because it’s future, right? But it’s tomorrow, it’s very close,” Bonello said. “We know that a lot of things will be the same, like architecture. The difference is with behavior, and I decided to take away stuff. You don’t have internet, images, commercials, you don’t have screens, you don’t have cars, you don’t have real sound. You don’t have interactions with other people. To get the world like it is, but empty. It gives the characters a huge loneliness.”
“The Beast” will debut in theaters on Friday, April 5 from Sideshow and Janus Films. Check out the film’s trailer below and read our complete IndieWire review from David Ehrlich right here.
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