Ari Aster thinks his third film is his best.
The “Midsommar” and “Hereditary” writer-director mused over the legacy of mind-bending “Beau Is Afraid” in an interview with Empire magazine. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a hyper-anxious man having a religious reckoning and mental breakdown when faced with seeing his emotionally abusive mother.
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“I consider the film to be a picaresque, and I think part of that tradition is a certain irreverence towards the integrity of any sort of narrative structure,” Aster said of his approach. “The film is designed to kind of shapeshift a lot.”
He added, “I would say that it’s the film I’m proudest of. I think it’s the best filmmaking that I’ve done. I love the film, and I really hope that people continue to find it.”
Aster recommended that audiences see the film at least twice to fully experience the layers of the three-act non-linear structure.
“I do hope people return to it,” the A24 filmmaker said. “It’s definitely a film that I think benefits from going back. I don’t think you quite know what it is until you’ve gone all the way through. I imagine that the second viewing would be hopefully rich in a way that the first one can’t. It’s designed to be wrestled with.”
Aster continued, “For me, the film crystallized at the end of the play sequence, where Beau reunited with his sons. It reaches this emotional peak, at the end of the most artificial sequence. The most I feel for Beau is when he’s essentially living out this really false moment of catharsis where he’s a father, which he is not, and he’s embracing these lost children that he’d never actually had. Whenever I watched the film, it felt like the very heart of the movie: this uncanny effect of us coming closest to the character when he’s actually furthest away from his own situation, and we’re just deep inside of him and his longings.”
However, Aster is thankful to be done with the film’s press tour, saying, “I feel like it’s always kind of an unhealthy thing to sit in, the grappling with the release and the reception. So I’m happy to be on the other side of it.”
Aster is set to reunite with “Beau Is Afraid” star Phoenix for a Western, which would be his fourth feature.
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