'Beast' a warped psycho-thriller directed by islander Michael Pearce and filmed on the island will get a local première on 25 April at Cineworld at 19:00, after launching to rave reviews at the Toronto Festival in September.
Beast follows Moll (Jessie Buckley), a misfit stuck in a job as a tourist bus trip tour guide, as she falls for Pascal (Johnny Flynn), a shadowy man with a criminal record.
Mixed with the dangerous liaison are a series of murders of young women, an atmosphere against which islanders are desperately struggling to continue as normal.
Many islanders will note the strong references to Jersey life – both good and bad – in Beast’s story and cinematography. There are references to tourism, allusions to historic abuse and the challenges faced by a community when disaster strikes. Most notable, however, is the strong reference to the notorious ‘Beast of Jersey’ – Edward Paisnel – who terrorised the island with sex crimes throughout the 1960s.
While Beasts' interior scenes were shot in Surrey, Pearce was adamant the key exteriors had to be shot in Jersey. He explained: "I set a lot of the scenes around the west of the island where I grew up: St Ouen's beach, the German bunkers, Plemont Beach, Beauport cliffs, Noirmont Point, and Greve De Lecq.
"I think the uniqueness and beauty of these landscapes imbue the film with very distinct atmosphere. It's a strong element of the film that international audiences have really responded to."
Video: Beast is Michael Pearce's directorial debut.
Pearce added: "I wanted to use Jersey as mythical back drop to a love story that spirals into a crime story. And in many ways the story was inspired by the land - the wildness of the coastline, the neatly trimmed hedges of affluent neighbourhoods and the expansive farmlands. Digging back into my own childhood impression of the island growing up I felt it was was atmospherically richer and more dynamic than the quaint image usually presented.
"The film is a love story, a dark adult fairytale, an intense psychological thriller, and I wanted to use different aspects of Jersey as a canvas for these narrative threads. I wanted to present the island in many ways; as seductive, rugged, mysterious, stifling and intoxicating."
Pictured: Jessie Buckley as lonely misfit and tour-guide Moll, who falls for the dark-hearted 'Beast' Pascal (Johnny Flynn).
Since it premiered at Toronto Festival in September, Beast has received rave reviews. Critics were particularly impressed by Michael Pearce's ability to capture the contradiction of island's life between fairy tale and suffocation. The Guardian gave the film a four-star rating, with reviewer Peter Bradshaw describing it as “a masterclass in slow-burn chills.”
Pearce, who has previously engaged in projects with the Jersey Arts Trust, is now looking forward to bring the movie on its home turf. The première will also be followed by a Q&A session where islanders will be able to ask Pearce questions about the movie. "I’m so excited to bring the film to Jersey for this preview screening," he said, "and extremely keen to see what a local audience makes of it."
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