French Director Bertrand Bonello Presents Genre-Bending Film The Beast at 28th Busan International Film Festival
Renowned French director Bertrand Bonello premiered his latest film, The Beast, at the 28th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in South Korea. The movie, which Bonello described as his most straightforward work to date, was showcased in the prestigious Gala Presentation section of the festival.
Inspired by Henry James’ classic novel The Beast in the Jungle, Bonello’s film takes the audience on a sci-fi romance journey spanning three different time periods: 1910, 2014, and 2044. The story revolves around the ill-fated romance between Gabrielle, played by Lea Seydoux, and Louis, portrayed by George MacKay, as they meet and reincarnate in these varying eras.
Despite the complexity of the storytelling, Bonello emphasized that the film’s underlying emotions are simple and powerful. Fear and anguish are very frontal in the film; much more than I ever did in fact. So the film is complex but at the same time, I think it’s my simplest film because the feelings expressed are so simple, so basic, and so important simultaneously, the director explained during a press conference.
Each time period in the film represents a different catastrophe that affects the couple’s relationship. The 1910 setting takes place in Paris before the Great Flood, with Gabrielle as a talented pianist. In 2014, the story unfolds in Los Angeles on the eve of a major earthquake, where Gabrielle works as a model and actor. Finally, in 2044, artificial intelligence controls society, and Gabrielle contemplates erasing her emotions through a procedure, leading her to share her concerns with Louis.
One notable aspect of The Beast is that it centers around a female protagonist, a departure from Bonello’s previous works. The director wanted to convey a mixed-genre story through the lens of a female character. One of the desires for the film at the beginning was to do it for the first time—a film in which the main character would be a female, which I’ve never done. Besides melodrama, all these genres of movie, which are science fiction and slasher, are mixed with one female actor of Gabrielle, Bonello explained.
Blending multiple storylines and time periods posed a challenge for Bonello. However, he successfully connects the dots between cellulose dolls from the early 20th century, the flawless beauty of top models, and future individuals devoid of emotions seeking artificial happiness.
Despite the complexity of the narrative, Bonello hopes that the audience will be able to fully immerse themselves in the emotional journey of the film. I would like the audience to sit and let themselves go on this trip, even though sometimes you might feel lost. I wanted the film to be an emotional treat, full of sensations. And to achieve that, you have to sit and surrender a little, the director expressed.
The Beast received a warm reception at the Busan International Film Festival, showcasing Bonello’s unique storytelling and visually captivating style. As the film continues its festival circuit, audiences around the world eagerly await the opportunity to experience this genre-bending masterpiece.
Keywords: Bertrand Bonello, The Beast, Busan International Film Festival, Gala Presentation, Henry James, sci-fi romance, Lea Seydoux, George MacKay, 1910, 2014, 2044, emotional journey, female protagonist, mixed-genre, cellulose dolls.