Director: Ari Aster

178 mins, Canada-Finland-USA, 2023, Digital

Moving away from the haunted-house horror of Hereditary (2018) and the folk horror of Midsommar (2019) to a more grounded, though no less daunting prospect, director Ari Aster’s third feature stars Joaquin Phoenix as lonely, fifty-something Beau, still his mother Mona’s little boy.

As Beau prepares to visit Mona (played as an older woman by Patti LuPone), he is waylaid by a series of unfortunate events and misses his flight. After she plays on his sense of guilt and not so subtly reminds him of his inadequacies and failures, his attempts to reach her see him taken in by off-kilter couple Grace (Amy Ryan) and Roger (Nathan Lane) before we see some of Beau’s history as a young man with Mona (now portrayed by Zoe Lister-Jones), which helps explain his anhedonic existence. This hugely ambitious and absurdist piece makes for riveting viewing.

Notes by Kevin Coyne

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