Directed and Written by #LukeHowe
Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley
It has become a cliché to tell a story that ‘love knows no boundaries’ and to ‘never judge a book by its cover’ and yet, the point is somehow still a valid one. We think ourselves more accepting of the inside rather than the outside but you need only see the rise of internet dating, match-up apps and the still booming beauty industry and its conventions, to see that things are still very much geared towards “a look”. Perhaps this is why stories about true love and looking beyond our perceptions will always have a meaningful weight to them and in writer/director #LukeHowe’s Kickstarter-assisted The Beast, old and new are married to brilliantly and enjoyably tell such a story.
The film sees successful magazine editor Rupert (#JoeDaCosta) find less success in the world of dating thanks to his towering, horned and hairy appearance but when he finally gets a match, he leaps at the chance to find love. Despite the initial concept visually seeming like something akin to maybe Alexandre Aja’s Horns, The Beast takes more than a petal of influence from Beauty and the Beast, to tell a still-timely story of pursuing love and overcoming the shallowness of a world that takes everything at face value.
The Beast may have a simple story at its base but how it wields it makes for an enjoyable and rather sweet short feature. Luke Howe embraces the fairytale-ness of his story (from vast libraries to a dance scene) but instils very modern updates in some of the formula and in the app dating and contemporary setting. There is an irony at work in how Rupert has a knack for editing magazines for the most aesthetic appeal but has the problems that his horns and hooves bring to struggle with but the film suggests, as is often the case in reality, that the answer to Rupert’s loneliness just might have been right under his nose the whole time.
It is predictable in some ways but Howe wisely ends his film with a hopeful hint rather than a big swig of saccharine and it works beautifully. The Beast is a wonderfully traditional and yet savvy tale of finding love and it is made all the more impressive by impressive performance and construction.
As the lead, Joe Da Costa is fantastic, making this nice, polite and somewhat timid character, feel very natural. There is something of a Hellboy or Shrek feel to how he portrays a fantastical character with such relatability and how he shows the struggle of dealing with society’s rejections. There are some good supporting turns too, especially from #RebecaBanatvala as the understanding and accepting plumber Pari, who in many ways is the film’s essence and most humane soul.
#TamasAMeder’s cinematography makes wondrous the everyday and makes a wealthy surrounding seem quite lonely when filled with only feelings of exclusion instead of warm embracement. This really is very well shot, with great production design by #DavideValsecchi and accompanying music by #RaphaelFimm, which captures the tone of the kind of cinema and literature that has inspired the story.
Though it is perhaps in the department of bringing Rupert to life onscreen that the film most impresses! Utilising their resources well, the talented crew have put some bigger budget work to shame, as the prosthetic and SFX work by #ChrisFitzpatrick looks great, as does the hair and make-up by #AmyWhyard, both of which bring the beastly look of Rupert out but also prioritise the character’s humanity as well, as do the sophisticated costumes by #JennyAnderton. This all aids Da Costa’s nervy and charming lead performance and brings “The Beast” very much to life.
The Beast is a tale as old as time indeed but it is still very much true as it can be.