Ari Aster: Watch ‘Beau is Afraid’ Twice for Full Appreciation

Double Take: A Closer Look at Ari Aster’s “Beau is Afraid”

Having watched Ari Aster’s “Beau is Afraid” twice now, I assert that the brilliance lies predominantly in the first two hours. However, the final hour seems to struggle under the weight of Aster’s lofty ambitions.

Fan Reactions

Despite this, a substantial group of ‘Beau’ devotees exist, including a particularly outspoken crowd on this platform. Some critics even praised it as a cinema success.

Ari Aster’s Perspective

In conversation with Empire, Aster shared his thoughts on the divided sentiments regarding his production. He suggests the film’s intricacies could be better appreciated on a second (or even third) viewing:

“I genuinely hope people revisit it. It’s a film that I truly believe in and I think it benefits from a comeback. I don’t think it reveals its true nature until you’ve seen it in its entirety. I envision that the experience of the second viewing would be notably rich in a manner that the initial can’t be. It’s meant to provoke thought. The film, in my opinion, is a picaresque and part of that tradition includes a distinct irreverence towards the integrity of any narrative structure, which allows the film to consistently change forms.”

Aster’s Pride Despite Disparity in Opinions

Considering the array of responses, Aster stands firm in his satisfaction with the film: “I feel like it’s always somewhat unhealthy to become preoccupied with the release and its reception,” he admits. “Therefore, I’m content being past that stage. However, I do admire this film the most amongst my works. I consider it the epitome of my filmmaking. I have a fondness for the film and sincerely wish it continues to reach audiences.”

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About the Film

Joaquin Phoenix plays the beleaguered protagonist, a man teetering under the burden of severe anxiety. He is compelled to face his profoundest fears as he undertakes a convoluted journey back home for his mother’s funeral.

Retrospective: Pauline Kael’s Stand on Rewatches

Famed critic Pauline Kael, were she still with us today, would have likely dismissed Aster’s encouragement for a rewatch. She was noted for her refusal to view any movie more than once, stating that her initial reaction was the most authentic, as it united all sense responses with the freshness of the on-screen presentation. Subsequent viewings, she argued, erode this spontaneous value.

Dissenting with Kael

I, for one, significantly differ from Kael’s stance. I wonder who among you actually committed to a second viewing of ‘Beau’ and ended up cherishing it more this time?