A driver begins to experience sudden uncontrolled movements when working on Christmas Eve.
A selection of Short of the Week, the web’s leading curators of quality short films.
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FULL REVIEW: https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2021/12/20/beast-benjamin-nicolas/
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Directed by Benjamin Nicolas
“The experience of becoming a parent for the first time is a difficult one to encapsulate in words. A dizzying mix of unconditional love, unwavering purpose and crushing responsibility, the one thing I can say for certain is that it’s a life-changing moment. As is often the case, when feeling emotions like this, you want to capture them and share them with others and when simple text won’t suffice, we turn to art. Created with the hope of relieving his “new fears” and making people think about how lucky we are when we have “healthy and energetic kids”, Benjamin Nicolas’ experimental short Beast is a physical, visceral piece set to ignite discussion and leave a lasting impression.
A personal film for the director, Beast is based on the new vulnerability he felt when becoming a father and was inspired by both his nightmares and love for Korean Cinema. Beginning innocently enough, this 11-minute film introduces us to the world of Martin, a parent and a driver, as he picks up a customer who has just been out Christmas shopping. That innocuous opening doesn’t last long though, as Martin drops his ride at a carol service, he sees a young girl waving and is instantly assaulted by the image of her falling through a desolate black space.
Only on the screen for a second, the ominous vision sets the tone for all to come. After hearing a voicemail from a woman and child (who we assume is Martin’s family), we follow our clearly disorientated driver as he delivers a food order. Arriving at his destination, he gets out of his car only to be consumed by a violent spasm – almost as if he’s been shot by an invisible bullet and then punched in the gut by an unseen force. Knocking on the door of his customer, he sees the young girl once more, this time wearing a dressed gown. Again, Martin is invaded with an image of her falling through an empty void, but now it’s accompanied by home footage of her playing with a doll.
From this point on, as we realise the girl he’s seeing is just a vision that no one else shares, Beast steps up another gear with its magnetic lead James Viveiros, a contemporary dance artist, driving the film with his insatiable energy. Shot over two freezing nights on the streets of Montreal, as the soundtrack cranks out a frenetic version of Revelation 19:1 – reminding us that the film is set around Christmas, while also matching Viveiros’ intensity on-screen – as viewers we find ourselves overwhelmed by the film, swallowed by its emotions and spirit.
It’s a truly intoxicating watch and alongside that feverish central performance, the measured cinematography of Kristof Brandl (God Forgives, We Don’t), the pace-setting edit (by Nicolas himself) and the otherworldly visual effects of Guillame Chaboud all combine to ensure the film succeeds in its aims of portraying these raw and instinctual feelings. As I mentioned earlier, it really does feel like words could never do justice to that change in mindset you undergo when first entering parenthood and by portraying it in such a palpable fashion Nicolas shows that you don’t need dialogue (the film features very little) to capture this unique, deep-rooted alteration to your very being.
Returning to our site for a second time, after 2019 feature WANDA, Beast toured the 2021 festival circuit where I was lucky to first see it as part of the Fantasia line-up. Instantly impressed with how powerful and original Nicolas’ short was it felt like exactly the type of film I want us championing on S/W and we couldn’t be prouder to premiere it on our site today. Screening so many short films every year, it’s easy to become apathetic to the viewing experience and at times you need a bold piece to show you what it is you love about short film. At the end of a long year, Beast was just the reminder I needed.- S/W Curator Rob Munday
Cast: James Viveiros, Lyly-Kim Morin, Christian Cardin, Eric Davis (voice)
Director of photography : Kristof
Visual Effect : Guillaume Chaboud
Editing : Benjamin Nicolas
Sound : Théo Porcet. CULT NATION
Music: Mathieu Lafontaine
Poster Design : Marina Crosbie
Reproduced on this channel with the permission of the filmmakers.