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  • Writer's pictureMichael Stewart

Review: The Beasts (Tokyo International Film Festival Exclusive)

The Beast: A sensational foreign film; with superb acting and a riveting storyline. Spoilers ahead.

The 35th Tokyo international film festival has lots to offer and too many movies for one person to see. So we decided one movie was enough for us. In this case, we chose The Beast, a thriller filmed in Spain and directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen.

A happy French couple moves to Galicia Spain to begin their dream life. They work with their hands, flipping homes and attending to a vegetable garden. Life is simple for these two, they are deeply in love. Quickly we realize that life is not that simple. There is a power struggle here.

Long before the couple arrived at this quant, hilly village, it was occupied by Spanish families. One of these families lives next door, and they do not take kindly to outsiders, especially when they get between them and a cash offer.

Windmills are built all around the village, and the company that owns them offers land owners money for permission to build on the land. The population of Galacia all have a vote, if the majority rules, the windmills get built. The middle-aged newcomers decide no, they will not be bought, this land is precious to them and they have a lifelong project to rebuild the community and restore it to its former glory. They convince the rest of the town to take their side in the matter.

Tensions grow when the two men next door harass the french couple. Slowly the harassment gets serious, and vandalism becomes more personal. Batteries in the well ruin a year's worth of crops, stalking, and murderous threats. They are no longer welcome.

The protagonist and his wife are at a crossroads, will they let these bullies drive them out of town? Will they give in and change their minds about the windmills? Their lives are a living hell. The police dont seem to care despite hard proof of wrongdoing. Using a camcorder to record every encounter is the only way this man feels safe.

Fast forward months later, and the french man is murdered. His body was left deep in the woods. Despite the loss, his wife stands strong. She stays in Spain searching for her husband's body every day. She knows exactly what happened.

Having to live next door to your husband's murderers can't be easy, we can feel the pain this poor woman is going through. Months and months go by with no luck, no new leads or evidence. She is misunderstood by her family, yet she cannot let go. She will not leave until justice is served, and her husband is found.

One day, she stumbles upon a camcorder. The french man recorded the whole thing, unfortunately, the tape is useless. Weather destroyed the memory card. But, not all is lost. The police know where to search. The body of the french man is found, and the men next door are held accountable.

With a massive language barrier in place this film delivered some of the bets acting i've seen this year, amazing cinematography and a beautifully constructed plot. Without reading subtitles you can feel and see the characters emotions in their eyes and actions. Every scene is tense and used to its fullest potential.

While this film has some slight issues with placing and drawing out scenes overall it's a phenomenal film and it's really opened my eyes to foreign cinema. This team deserves recognition for an amazing product and i encourage all of you to see "The Beasts" as soon as its available for you.

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