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LA BELLE BETE
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Karim Hussain

Starring:
Carole Laure
Caroline Dhavernas
Marc-Andre Grondin

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
After a family loses their father, a bizarre love triangle forms between mother, son and daughter. And when another man is brought into the element, things get really nasty.
Is it good movie?
I can honestly say that I am thrilled to see Karim Hussain making movies. His early effort, the incredibly dark and f*cked up Subconcious Cruelty was a fascinating film and offered up some unique and some very horrifying images. With his French-Canadian family drama La Belle Bete, he has created a nicely structured picture of what is translated to ďThe Beautiful BeastĒ. And yes, there are some beastly moments in this drama. Cruel, angry and downright murderous elements of a family on the verge of self-destruction.

Isabelle-Marie (Caroline Dhavernas) is a lonely soul who only finds discomfort as she sees the bond between her mother, Louise (Carole Laure) and brother Patrice (Marc-Andre Grondin), bloom into a disturbing mother and son relationship. While Isabelle grows with hatred, she imagines the two together and brutal acts of murder committed against them by a strange man with the head of a horse. Patrice loves his mothers attention, because he has the mind of a child, and he is confused by the manipulative Isabelle, who talks him into doing things that mother would not approve of. But all this gets even more twisted when Louise brings a new man home leaving her beloved son neglected and destroyed.

Hussain has created a beautiful beast as he paints his family in a cold and dark portrait. The mother constantly telling the daughter she has an ugly smile. The son who learns to hate through his sisters cruel behavior. All this creates a grim and undeniable bitter and sad tale. Hussainís use of color and handheld camera is quite stunning while he also seems to have a sure hand when directing his actors. Each of the lead actors give very powerful performances. Ms. Dhavenas wears her wicked and cruel smile in such a playful way that her sanity is truly in question. She doesnít play her crazy, she plays her as a woman who is lost and finds solace in her hatred. A bizarre and complex performance that carries until the surprisingly brutal end. What is truly inspired in her performance is the sympathy she is able to generate.

My only minor complaint lies in the fact that the film takes on several years, yet the characters, aside from the mother, donít seem to age. It did seem to be odd, but then again, it is certainly better then bad aging make-up that seems like it belongs on a sitcom. So this minor flaw is not worthy of taking away from the seemingly Twin Peaks atmosphere that surrounds the beast. It is truly a beauty of one.
Video / Audio
Video: A very clear 2:35.1 transfer. Very beautiful and it brings out Hussainís work quite nicely.

Audio: The 5.1 Dolby is also very nice and adds to the atmospheric score.
The Extras
As for the extras, they seem to be pretty terrific. Although I found that there were no sub-titles for the Audio Commentary but Iím guessing Karim Hussain probably had some interesting stories to tell. Sadly, I couldnít hear them. There is also a Audio Interview with the author of the book from which the movie is based, Marie-Claire Blais. Iím guessing it would be very interesting. Again, no sub-titles.

But I will say, the Making ofÖ (43:28) is fantastic. It is sometimes in French and sometimes in English but I felt it gave insight into how Karim Hussain works. It really feels that his cast and crew trust him completely. Fantastic watch, whether you speak French or not.

And finally, there is a Photo Gallery of the point the remote and click. EhÖ whatever. These never excite me. And I canít forget about the Trailer for the film, which makes me want to watch the movieÖ again.
Last Call
La Belle Bete is a visually stunning look at the inner beauty and ugliness that is found in a dysfunctional family. The performances are all terrific, especially as the characters fall deeper into despair. Although this is not a horror film, there are quite a few disturbing images that are more shocking than many genre films. Itís nice to see a family drama take chances and delve into darkness. This is a very worthwhile and quietly haunting journey into the beating black heart of a family filled with rage.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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