One of the most buzzed-about international movies of the fall festival circuit, Bertrand Bonello’s “The Beast,” has already lured several distributors ahead of its world premiere in competition at Venice.
Represented by Kinology, the dystopian romance is headlined by Léa Seydoux (“Crimes of the Future”) and George MacKay (“1917”) as star-crossed lovers.
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The gripping film, which marks Bonello’s most ambitious to date, is set in a near future where artificial intelligence reigns supreme and human emotions have become a threat. Gabrielle (Seydoux), a woman haunted by an irrational fear, is being told that she must purify her DNA to heal from past traumas in order to get a proper job. Through the process, Gabrielle revisits past lives and immerses herself in buried memories from 1910 and 2014, where she reunites with Louis (MacKay), her great love. While their bond has transcended lifetimes and eras, it’s also at the root of her premonition that something tragic will happen.
The film has pre-sold to Italy (iWonder); Latin America (Soubert S.A./Impacto Cine); Middle East (Front Row Entertainment); Benelux (Imagine Film Distribution); Russia, CIS and Baltics (Solarpearl/Capella); Greece (Videorama/Weirdwave); Bulgaria (Cinelibri); and India (Superfine Films). Paris-based Ad Vitam will release it in France. Following its bow on the Lido, the movie will go on to play at the Toronto, New York and London film festivals, among others.
Bonello said he wanted to wanted to paint a “portrait of a woman and deal head-on with love and melodrama.” He chose a minimalistic sci-fi backdrop because “romance and genre seem to respond to each other.” The director, who has presented films at Cannes (“House of Tolerance,” “Saint-Laurent”) and Berlin (“Coma”), said he aspired to weave “the intimate and the spectacular, classicism and modernity, the known and the unknown, the visible and the invisible.”
Penned by Bonello, “The Beast” is loosely based on Henry James’ famous novella but expands its premise, setting the action between Paris and Los Angeles. The film boasts a strong music score and stellar production values with lush cinematography and period costumes, especially for the part set in 1910 which was lensed in 35mm.
“The Beast” was produced by Les Films du Bélier, My New Picture and Sons of Manual. Justin Taurand and Bonello produced the movie alongside Nancy Grant and Xavier Dolan as co-producers. The key crew includes cinematographer Josée Deshaies (“Lamb”) and set designer Katia Wyszkop (“Benedetta”).
Here’s the exclusive first poster for the film:
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