Beast

This isn’t Bruce Springsteen’s idea of Jersey Girls. On the island of Jersey, there have been four girls abducted and killed. Moll (newcomer Jessie Buckley, who’s terrific) looks rather unhappy at her birthday party, so she sneaks out to a nightclub. When she’s leaving the club early in the morning with a guy she just met, it’s looking like he might rape her on the beach. She gets rescued by Pascal (Johnny Flynn) a brooding and rugged stranger. Romance quickly ensues.

This is writer/director Michael Pearce’s debut feature, and it shows promise, before ultimately becoming a mess, with 15 minutes of this needing to be edited out.

It’s mildly interesting to learn more about Moll. She stabbed a classmate after being bullied. She has a domineering mom (Geraldine James), and an affluent family life she’s not happy with. And from what we see at family dinners, we can understand why.

The police are investigating the murders, and lead detective Clifford (Trystan Gravelle), seems to like Moll. Is that why he feels her new man just might be the murderer? Or is it the fact that he’s got a few priors on his record?

The film has a handful of annoying red herrings — including some that are merely dream sequences. It grew tiresome quickly.

A lot of this was formulaic and obvious, and some of the scenes just hokey. The various cuts to crashing waves, to symbolize their wild romance, being one of them. Also, I’ve grown tired of scenes in which a crazy person picks a piece of broken glass off the floor and squeezes it into their hand as blood oozes out around the fingers. It seems that’s done so often in movies.

Johnny Flynn reminds me of a young Tim Roth, or an unstable Alex Pettyfer, and it’s the perfect look and performance for the role of Pascal.

Jessie Buckley looks like a Molly Ringwald/Carrot Top combination, yet her look and performance is outstanding.

All of this just becomes preposterous, and at times, rather boring. That being said, I’m looking forward to Pearce’s next film. He shows promise.

1 ½ stars out of 5.