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HomeentertainmentMovie News'The Beast' Review: Spanish Director Rodrigo Sorogoyen's Searing Town Thriller

'The Beast' Review: Spanish Director Rodrigo Sorogoyen's Searing Town Thriller

Writer-director Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s new film Beasts (As Bestas) swept last year’s Goya Awards in Spain, and it’s hard to imagine a less suspenseful setting.

In a small village in the mountains of Galicia, a French couple decides to restart their life as organic farmers, selling their produce at the town market and repairing abandoned produce. The old house is vacant. Wife Olga (Marina Foyce) and husband Antoine (Denis Menochet) are a gentle and considerate middle-aged couple who care about environmental issues and are fluent in Spanish to do business with the locals.


Bottom line Tense and territorial.

Release Date: Friday, July 18 Cast: Denis Menochet, Marina Foyce, Luis Zahra, Diego Anido, Marie Colombo Director: Rod Rigo Sorogoyen Screenwriter: Isabel Pena, Rodrigo Sorogoyen 2 Hours 28 Minutes

From the first minute, however, this searing drama of rural conflict, xenophobia and cultural hostility is filled with an almost unbearable tension — which boils over when Olga and Antoine clash with native brothers Xan (Luis Zahra) and Lorenzo (Diego Arnido). They live just down the street and have a big grudge with their new neighbors.

Sorogoyen and co-screenwriter Isabel Pena were inspired by a true story that happened more than a decade ago, involving a Dutch couple in the same predicament. They changed some details and lowered the age of the protagonist, but the core conflict of The Beast is the same, new ways versus old ways, immigrants versus nationals. It is a bleak and unforgiving portrait of Spain, reminiscent of the director’s two earlier films: May God Save Us (2016) and Candidate (2016), depicting a country plagued by corruption, traditionalism and chauvinism.

When the movie starts, the war between the Frenchman and the brothers has been going on for some time, started by Olga. Antoine voted against installing income-generating wind turbines near the town. Ironically, they did it to protect the land where Xan and Lorenzo grew up, but the latter two drank far more time than they worked while watching the money come out of their pockets.

We gradually learn about it all – initially from Antoine’s perspective as he tries to keep the farm afloat while dealing with the constant threat from his neighbors. At first, it’s just some unflattering comments they gather at a small town pub. But things start to snowball when the threat becomes more serious, with Xan and Lorenzo blocking Antoine’s path on the way home, or throwing a pair of car batteries into his well, destroying the French couple’s only livelihood crop.

These sinister excursions to Antoine and Olga’s estate, overlooking the verdant Galician hills, feel like a set out of a western (Sorogoyen mentions noon as inspiration in a press note). But there’s a tone of bitter and violent hate here, more reminiscent of 28 thrillers like Straw Dogs or Delivered , where backward rednecks take out their grievances on innocent newcomers.

Every time Antoine steps out of his house, he suddenly becomes a stranger in a hostile land, and tension builds up. Menochet is a bear actor whose eyes convey both misanthropy and explosive anger, and he doesn’t need to do too much at every turn to build suspense. You just know things aren’t going to work themselves out, and when the big scene finally happens, it’s shocking how inescapably hopeless it seems. Sorogoyen portrayed it as a brutal display of unfettered Spanish masculinity rather than a duel to the death.

The second half of the film switches to Olga’s point of view, and while it’s never marked by the same underlying violence, it explores further the divide between foreigners and locals, including a pair of gendarmes who are supposed to provide protection. When the couple’s 20 wonderful daughter Mary (the wonderful Mary Colon) finally shows up for a visit, she has the same reaction as the audience: why would anyone want to stay in a place where they are so unwelcome?

Foïs’ character doesn’t offer convincing answers, she clings stubbornly to the only thing she has, to a dream that long ago turned into a nightmare. The French actress portrays Olga as a dignified woman who is blinded by love before it’s too late and would rather suffer the consequences than try to move on.

Zahra (Sorogoyen’s regular guest) and Anido are utterly disturbing as two men who give up on their dreams before the film begins, expressing the brothers’ pain in a barrage of passive-aggressive words and actions. In one memorable scene, Lorenzo drives Antoine home when his truck breaks down, but every time Antoine tries to climb in, Lorenzo hits the gas. What starts as a silly little joke, or some kind of neighbor insult, quickly turns into an act of downright cruelty.

Sorogoyen arranged this and other scenes as simply as possible, allowing the action to unfold without excessive sound design, editing, or cinematography. The Galician location was so inspiring that cinematographer Alejandro de Pablo often stepped back to shoot with wide-angle shots, capturing the rustic beauty behind many dark events. If it weren’t for the people, the picturesque Spanish town might actually seem like a great place to live.

Full Crew

Release Date: Friday, July 28 Production: Arcadia Motion Pictures, Caballo Films, Cronos Entertainment, Le Pacte Publisher: Greenwich Entertainment Actors: Denis Ménochet, Marina Foïs, Luis Zahera, Diego Arnido, Marie Corum, Luisa Meireiras Director: Rodrigo Sorogoyen Screenwriters: Isabel Pena, Rodrigo Sorogoyen
Producers: Ibán Komenzana, Ignaci Esteppe, Sandra Tapia Diaz, Eduardo Villanueva, Nacho Lavella, Rodrigo Sorogoien, Jean Labadie, Anne-Laure Labadie, Thomas Pibarot Executive Producer: Sandra Tap iaDirector of Photography: Alejandro de PabloProduction Designer: Jose TiradoCostume Designer: Paola TorresEditor: Alberto del CampoComposer:O Liver Assen Casting Directors: Arantza Vélez, Paula Cámara, Julie NavarroSpanish, French 2 Hours18 Minutes

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