The Beast – Review

Worth seeing: to follow the same pair of characters as they meet in different periods of time, without having any real justification for the conceit
Director:Bertrand Bonello
Featuring:George MacKay, Léa Seydoux, Dasha Nekrasova, Elina Löwensohn, Guslagie Malanda, Martin Scali, Theo Hakola
Length:147 minutes
Country:Canada, France
Released:31st May 2024


In 1910 Paris, pianist Gabrielle Monnier (Léa Seydoux) bumps into a familiar face at a high society party, while she’s looking for her husband. Louis Lewanski (George Mackay) reminds her that they met a few years earlier and she told him about a great fear that was holding her back in life – the “beast” of the title.

In 2014 Los Angeles, a struggling actress, Gabrielle Monnier, is house-sitting for a wealthy local, when an angry misogynist, Louis Lewanski, targets her as the object of his anger towards all the women who’ve rejected him over the years.

In 2044, Gabrielle Monnier is undergoing a procedure to cleanse her DNA to improve her prospects in life – a procedure that involves looking back over her past or parallel lives – such as the ones in 1910 and 2014. In the waiting room – and in a local night-club – she bumps into a young man, Louis Lewanski.

The same two characters meet in very different circumstances in these very different times and places – and the outcome of their relationships are very different.


Bertrand Bonello’s multi-timeframe drama has echoes of Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, with its two protagonists encountering each other again and again throughout time –  as if we are destined to be together – or apart – or at least to encounter each other.

The production designers, costume designers, actors and Bonello himself do a creditable job of giving each time period authenticity and individuality – perhaps too much individuality, though, as each story is so different from the others that it raises questions as to what he’s trying to say.

If he was trying to present a multiverse where characters are destined to be together – or indeed not be together – you’d expect a degree of consistency in the plots; given that there isn’t, you wonder what he is trying to say.

There’s no narrative similarity between any of the timelines – with the central characters being star-crossed lovers in one and hunter and prey in another; only when we meet them in the future is there any sense that they might be the same lost souls coming together in each lifetime, rather than the film being an anthology of unrelated stories about characters who just happen to share a name and be played by the same actors.

The film explores some interesting ideas – not least a future where AI has more control than humans. But despite it being a bold enterprise, the failure to present a convincing case for intertwining these three stories into a single film – having no real justification for the conceit – makes it feel a little more like a pretentious student film than a fully realised cinematic vision.