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Film / Beast (2017)

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Beast (known as Jersey Affair in some countries) is a 2017 British psychological thriller / romantic drama film. Set on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands, it tells the story of Moll, a young woman stuck living a monotonous life with her painfully overbearing family. This changes when she meets and falls for Pascal, a mysterious and handsome outsider who offers her a different life. However, their romance takes an increasingly dark turn when Pascal is accused of committing a series of murders.


Beast was written and directed by Michael Pearce and stars Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn and Geraldine James.

Not to be confused with the young adult novel and film Beastly, Beauty and the Beast (2017) or the novel Beast and its film adaptation The Beast.

Beast contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Clifford for Moll. She eventually makes it very clear that she doesn't reciprocate and finds him repulsive.
  • Abusive Parents: Moll's mother Hilary is emotionally abusive and extremely controlling towards her.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Moll is strongly attracted to rebellious poacher Pascal and stays with him even when she learns about his criminal record and violent streak. As it turns out, she herself isn't exactly a saint. She's not so keen after finding out he's a murderer though.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • Moll had no friends in school and was bullied. Later in the film, after Pascal is arrested for the murders and Moll stands by him, she is ostracised by almost the whole town.
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    • Pascal is also an outsider even prior to being accused of murder.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Possibly overlapping with Downer Ending. Moll finds out Pascal really is the killer and so causes a car accident in attempt to kill him. She strangles him to death to finish him off. The final scene shows a bloodied Moll standing up on the deserted road, staring into space. Smash to Black.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Pascal makes one to Moll when she asks up straight if he's the killer, exclaiming how she could ask him that when he loves her. She immediately focuses on this and confesses that she loves him too.
  • Anti-Hero: Moll. She is a flawed and troubled woman who does some rather morally questionable things throughout the film, but she does try to be a good person and is generally presented sympathetically.
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  • Arc Words: Moll tends to reiterate that she's "a good person", which Pascal also says to her.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Pascal. He is killed by Moll after she finds out he's a serial rapist and killer, and has been lying to her about it ever since they met.
    • Possibly the girl who Moll stabbed in high school. She had bullied her so relentlessly Moll stabbed her in self-defence. Moll later admits that she actually just did it for revenge and the now adult girl is still shown to be very distraught by the incident, potentially subverting this.
  • Auto Erotica: At one point, Moll and Pascal have sex in his truck. It gets a Cerebus Call-Back when she and Pascal are driving down the road at the end of the film, and, having learned that, he's the killer, Moll grabs the steering wheel and drives them off the road, killing him.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Moll repeatedly insists she stabbed her high school bully in self-defence and that it wasn't her fault, but later admits to Pascal and herself that she actually did it out of vengeance against the girl for tormenting her.
  • Birds of a Feather: Moll and Pascal. She even states at one point that "We're the same". He says the same thing when he's trying to convince her not to kill him after she finds out he's a murderer. Unfortunately for him, he is right about them having that in common.
  • Black Sheep: Moll is this in her family, due to the incident that led her being expelled from school. Her sister Polly outright calls Moll "a wild one" early in the film.
  • Blatant Lies: When Pascal comes to see Moll, Hilary answers the door and says she's not in...only for Moll to immediately appear behind her.
  • Book-Ends: At both the start of the film and close to the end, Moll is seen getting dressed in front of a mirror. She spots a long hair growing from her neck; at the start she yanks it off while at the end she leaves it alone.
  • Cinderella Circumstances: Moll to an extent. She's forced to act as a caretaker for her father, who has dementia, and as a babysitter to her younger cousin in a beautiful country home. Her mother is extremely strict and controlling and is irritated with her for sneaking out to go dancing, where she meets a handsome stranger who offers her a life of passion and freedom.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Moll's family are very overbearing and controlling, especially her mother. She was bullied at school, to the point where she stabbed a bully with a pair of scissors in self-defence though as it later turns out, it was actually out of revenge and got expelled.
    • Pascal's parents are both dead, he's been arrested multiple times for poaching and did time as a teenager for assaulting a thirteen year old girl, although he claims the sex was consensual and the girl's parents blew it out of proportion out of hatred for him.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: It's clear part of the reason Moll likes being with Pascal is because of how much her family, especially her mother, don't approve of him.
  • Destructive Romance: Particularly in the second half of the film, Moll and Pascal's relationship becomes this. At one point, they get into a nasty, alcohol-fuelled fight, during which Pascal actually chokes Moll in a rage. It ultimately culminates in her strangling him to death after learning he's a murderer.
  • Did Not Get The Guy: In the end, Moll doesn't get the guy because of her own actions; she murders Pascal after he admits to being the serial killer.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Twice in the film, first on her birthday and then later near the end, Moll gets completely wasted as a coping mechanism for emotional distress.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The opening scene of Moll's birthday party is this for a number of characters; Moll's sister Polly uses her congratulatory speech to Moll to publicly announce she's pregnant with twins, her mother Hilary orders Moll about and seems unperturbed by Polly's actions, even calling it a cause for celebration, and Moll is seen practicing smiling in front of her bedroom mirror prior to the party.
  • Evil Redhead: Played with by Moll. She stabbed a childhood bully extremely hard in the eye, and not in self-defence, despite her attempts to claim otherwise. She also seems to fantasize about being the killer, but as soon as she finds out that Pascal is a serial killer, she does the right thing and drives him off the road, killing him.
  • Extreme Doormat: Moll starts out as one to her family, but quickly starts to rebel after she meets Pascal.
  • Fairytale Motifs: Director and writer Michael Pearce described the film as being a bit of a deconstructed fairytale; Moll comes across as a typical fairytale heroine trapped in an oppressive life, who is offered freedom by a handsome stranger who lives in the woods. It's also been described as a "warped adult fairytale".
  • Fiery Redhead: Moll, although she's initially quite restrained. When she starts openly rebelling against her family though, she really goes for it and borders on spinning out of control.
  • Floating Head Syndrome: The theatrical release poster features Pascal's translucent face lingering in the sky behind Moll. Given The Reveal at the end, it also technically counts as Evil Overlooker.
  • Get Out!: Hilary tells Moll this after the Take That! mentioned below.
  • Heel Realization: Moll has one towards the end of the film; although she herself is more of an Anti-Hero than a villain, she comes to realise she is wrong for continuing to defend Pascal despite evidence he's a murderer.
  • Hope Spot: Two prominent ones.
    • Round about the middle of the film, Moll ditches her overbearing family and moves in with Pascal, finally feeling free and happy for the first time in her life. Then Pascal gets arrested for the murders...
    • In the third act Pascal is cleared of the murders when another man's DNA is found on the body of the latest victim; he's subsequently freed, reunited with Moll and they make plans to start a new life. But then she starts getting paranoid he was the killer after all.
  • Inspired by...: The film's story was partly inspired by the real-life case of Edward Paisnel, the "Beast of Jersey", a violent sex offender who terrorised the island of Jersey in the 1960's and early 1970's.
  • Jerkass: Just about Moll's entire family qualifies. They all tend to be very self-centred and image-obsessed, and treat her like a servant even on her birthday.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Clifford may be a sleazy jerk to Moll, but he's right about Pascal being bad news and Moll herself lacking the moral high ground for lying to the cops about Pascal.
  • Lack of Empathy: Detective Kelly claims this about Pascal when he's a suspect for the serial murders, telling Moll that he doesn't truly love her and is in fact incapable of love. Pascal is revealed to be the killer and doesn't seem to feel any remorse for it, even claiming his victims were "nothing", but it's a bit more complicated as to whether or not he truly felt nothing for Moll.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Moll is seriously unstable, and it's revealed that she lied in claiming she stabbed the girl in self-defence, which makes it ambiguous how much of a bully she was, and she fantasizes about killing the victims. However, she still gets revenge on Pascal and ensures he can't hurt anybody else by killing him after he confesses to being the killer.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Moll lies to the police to protect Pascal when he's arrested for murder, out of love for him. She justifies it to herself that she 'knows' he's innocent, but it eventually becomes clear this isn't true, at which point the guilt starts to eat away at her.
  • Love Martyr: Moll becomes one to Pascal in the second half. She stands by him and even lies for him after he's arrested for the murders. She also stays with him and insists she still loves him even after he chokes her during a fight. It's subverted in the end, as she kills him after he confesses to being a rapist and murderer.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: The first time Moll and Pascal have sex, it's in the middle of the woods.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Pascal comes across as this and Moll seems convinced he's this. He's not.
  • My Beloved Smother: Hilary. Dear god Hilary.
  • Older Than They Look: You'd be forgiven for thinking that Moll is in her late teens or early twenties, based on her general appearance, behaviour and the way her family treats her. She's actually just turned twenty-seven.
  • One-Word Title: The film's title is simply Beast. It fits with the "adult fairytale" theme of the movie and it's a bit ambiguous as to who or what exactly it's referring to.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Moll fits this perfectly, with a large part of the film involving her escalating efforts to break free of her controlling, oppressive family, ranging from digging her dirty nails into the family's white couch, to destroying a country club's manicured lawn with a golf club.
  • Rejected Apology: Late in the film, Moll approaches and tries to apologise to her high school bully for stabbing her. Though shocked, the woman seems willing to accept it, saying it happened over a decade ago...until Moll says she was only "defending [herself]". The woman doesn't take this well, becoming distraught and furiously ordering Moll to leave.
  • Rescue Romance: Moll and Pascal first meet when he saves her from a man who was trying to kiss her against her will. They're instantly attracted to each other and begin a relationship shortly afterward.
  • The Reveal:
    • Moll actually attacked the classmate who bullied her out of revenge, not self-defence, and even says she may have been trying to kill her.
    • The serial killer really was Pascal all along.
  • Revenge: Detective Kelly suggests to Moll that the real reason she continues to defend Pascal after he's arrested for murder and they find evidence she lied in her initial testimony is not because she genuinely believes he's innocent, but because she wants revenge against the community which have always ostracised her and made her feel unwanted. Moll eventually admits to Pascal that she stabbed her school bully not in self-defense, but out of vengeance.
  • Scenery Porn: The film's dark subject matter is set against the beautiful landscapes of Jersey.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Moll isn't really enjoying her twenty-seventh birthday party, which Hilary organised, but after her sister upstages it to announce her pregnancy, she has enough and sneaks off to go clubbing until the early hours.
    • In the middle of the film, Moll moves out of her family's house and goes to live with Pascal.
    • Later, Moll tries to encourage Pascal to leave the island and start a new life somewhere else, though he's reluctant. He is finally persuaded to go, as he wants Moll to be happy...but then he confesses he really was the killer at her urging.
  • Self-Harm: Early in the film, a stressed Moll deliberately squeezes her hand around a glass shard, causing a nasty cut. Later, while being berated by her mother, it's revealed she was digging her fingers into the cut, causing it start bleeding again. She later also spends a night lying in the grave of one of the murder victims without a coat or blanket, and even shoves dirt in her mouth.
  • Serial Killer: One has been operating in Moll's community for a number of years, raping and killing young women. Pascal is suspected of being the killer, forming one of the main plots of the film. In the end, it's revealed he really was the killer all along.
  • Shamed by a Mob: When Moll quietly attends the funeral service of the latest murder victim, some of the other attendees are clearly not happy to see her there due to her boyfriend being the prime suspect. One man even orders her leave and tells her to "fuck off". After she hugs the victim's grieving mother and tells her she's sorry, Moll is all but chased out by some of the men; they follow her to her car and look ready to attack her until she loudly screams at them to get them to back off.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Moll starts out wearing sundresses in pale colours like yellow. As she becomes increasingly close to Pascal and begins rebelling against her family, she starts wearing the colour blue a lot more and also dresses in more casual clothes like sweaters and oversized T-shirts.
  • Smells Sexy: Moll brings up Pascal's smell a few times and clearly finds it attractive. When Polly asks what she likes about him, she half-jokingly brings up his smell. The first time they have sex, she also noticeably inhales as she steps close to him. When Clifford makes a pass at her, she tells him the one thing she always disliked most about him was his "smell".
  • Stress Vomit: After Pascal's arrest for murder and being shown photos of the murder victims, Moll starts feeling nauseous during her tour guide job and has to get off the bus to vomit on the side of the road.
  • Surprise Car Crash: A variation involving just one car. At the end of the film, Moll and Pascal are idyllically driving along a back road in the woods. Moll asks Pascal to kiss her. As he does, she suddenly unclips his seatbelt and yanks on the steering wheel, causing the car to crash and flip over.
  • Take That!: After Pascal is asked to leave a golf club for a dress code violation (he's wearing black jeans rather than dress pants) and Moll's family don't intervene, she announces she wants to make a toast and loudly states "To my family. For everything you've done for me. I forgive you."
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Later in the film, Moll is attacked in her house by a group of men (wielding bats and crowbars rather than torches and pitchforks), who seemingly want revenge on her for standing by Pascal, the chief suspect in the murder case. It's revealed to be a nightmare, though a realistic one, as the townsfolk genuinely are antagonistic towards Moll for her relationship with Pascal.
  • Tough Love: After Moll was expelled from school for stabbing another girl, she mentions her mother quit her job to homeschool her and tried to "beat the bad out of her". Unfortunately, Hilary's approach to parenting borders on or outright crosses into emotional abuse and in the end, only serves to make Moll want to rebel more.
  • Wham Line: From Pascal near the end of the film. "It's over. The others...they were nothing to me".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Moll gets a lot of this for continuing to stand by Pascal even when he becomes a murder suspect, especially from Clifford when she confesses that she lied to the police about Pascal's whereabouts the night they met.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The serial killer specifically targets young women. At one point during an argument, Pascal slams Moll against a wall and chokes her.


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