beau is afraid

Beau Is Afraid

Directed by Ari Aster
U.K., U.S, Finland, Canada / 2023 / Narrative
179 minutes / English

From writer-director Ari Aster comes a delirious journey into the unknown from one of the most inventive cinematic minds working today: the story of a man who sets out to visit his mother and discovers a world of malevolent forces and unseen eyes tracking his every move. Dense with meaning and aimed squarely at confronting the emotional chaos and collective uncertainty of our present day, Beau is Afraid follows one man’s odyssey through the depths of the end of history, finding horror and humor at every turn.

Milquetoast Beau Wassermann (Joaquin Phoenix) lives alone in a downtown apartment building where every moment is a waking nightmare. Prone to anxiety and paranoia, he visits his longtime therapist (Stephen McKinley Henderson), who prepares him for his imminent journey to visit his mother (Patti LuPone). But mayhem ensues on the eve of Beau’s departure, spinning his life in a surreal new direction. Unable to reach his destination in a world gone insane, traveling on roads that don’t appear on any map, Beau is forced to confront his own life and the lies he’s been told by those closest to him.

From the creator of Hereditary and Midsommar comes a crackpot vision of control, inheritance, and escape—the world as experienced by the unforgettable Beau Wassermann. A grand, Odyssean adventure and an intimate dissection of its anxious protagonist, Beau is Afraid is a character study about an unlived life, a hero’s journey for a man whose disposition and temperament are uniquely unsuited to the trials and challenges of dealing with his surroundings, his family, and his own interior life. Elemental and psychological, Aster’s third feature is a darkly comic epic that feels both sharply contemporary and as old as time—a life put under a microscope and going off the rails.