Because He’s Afraid (2023) – Movie Review
Bo is afraid of many things. He does not like crowds, he does not trust drugs, he cannot live without drugs, and illness is his faithful companion. It turns away wild men, intimidates beautiful women, and can kill an orgasm. However, it is Beau who is most afraid of his mother (Patty LuPone embodies Gloria Swanson from “Sunset Boulevard”). It was her cry that he heard first, and he was the one who made it. Maybe that’s why she spit on the floor. After that, the Giver of Life did not let him live. but he still loved her, as befits a boy hidden in the body of a man of forty who – before he could speak – was deprived of his voice. So when he finds out that his mother has lost her head (!) and according to Jewish custom must arrive for the funeral within 24 hours, a bolt of lightning falls from heaven and Hell opens its gates. As it turns out, Bo’s mother will continue to guide him from the afterlife, and the man’s journey to the outskirts of his home will turn into a mental journey burdened with maternal shackles.
The journey will consist of three stories that differ emotionally and visually. Our hero will move from the urban chaos in which he lives to the pseudo-idyllic suburbs, and from there he will escape into the jungle society, but the tyrant, Gorgon, the accuser will still control everything. Although it may seem that encounters with various incarnations of the present mother, the absent father and former lovers will relieve the hero of such psychological burdens as psychodrama, and therapy means conversation, and that here consists not of words, but of convulsions that preclude any healing. . A delusional depiction of Jewish guilt, sexual unfulfillment, paternal rebellion, and maternal horrors was a horror of the eternally quivering psyche and a black comedy with misfortune as monstrous as a juvenile spring. If ever there was a moment for a break from fairytales, the spell is about to break. On screen, there is no boundary between worn-out memories, legacy fears and traumas, and reality distorted by a neurotic mind. Nervous laughter is our only defense in front of a screen. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Ari Aster’s third full-length film is some of his most brutal work. Impotence is the theme and guiding principle of the narrative. The hero does not start with anything, but rather reacts to the omnipresent misfortune, and reaction usually means flight, which further reveals Poe’s helplessness. It is in this enchanted circle that Joaquin Phoenix finds himself to the fullest. Cinematographer Pawe Pogorzelski, acting on the advice of the director and screenwriter, doesn’t just celebrate the Phoenix warehouse of mutters and whines, with the actor’s exaggeratedly contorted face, perpetually surprised eyes and crooked attitude. By estimation, the “Joker” star is either the greatest strength or greatest weakness of “Because He’s Afraid.” The rating will depend on the viewer’s tolerance of the pessimistic vision of a man who, rather than trying to lighten the darkness of the soul, is consuming it. In his delusional imagination, Aster is unable or unwilling to transcend his tortured mentality. By giving insight into the mind, it does not give insight into everyday life. Is the lover paranoid or not? It’s irrelevant, because – unlike the genre’s patron Charlie Kaufman – Aster throws us into the depths of sick cognition rather than tending to its cracks. Thus he treats his personality as a puppet, deprived of the ability to act, think critically and self-reflect more deeply than the narcissistic complainer.

All this means that the Oedipus complex, altered by nightmarish states, turns out not to be explanatory evidence, but a reduced psychological cliché. Mind-blowing, on the other hand, turns out to be a set of symbols subtle in construction, but lifeless. Yes, Aster is still both a hacker and an artist, a powerhouse with a wild imagination, capable of scratching the viewer emotionally. It gives us a work very rich in staging, remarkable in terms of individual scenes, a voice that gives no moment’s rest (Bobby Krelik), and, despite a three-hour screening, meticulous in construction. In addition, it is strongly self-referential, based on the legendary Matrix, clearly inspired by cinema history. Reaching his favorite motifs and putting them in a new light (if the story invented before his first appearance is to be considered as such), he confines himself to indictment and comes perilously close to a barren tirade: the world is cruel, the mother is to blame, there is no saving. Aster becomes saddled with the thesis about the instability of personal relationships and familial gloom, which – at least on screen – he can’t escape. Perhaps he is sarcastic and agitated with a very dark sense of humor. Or perhaps, even as an artist with such a rich and grotesque imagination, he finally reveals his mental limitations? Whatever the case, you won’t be freeing yourself from the products of his sick imagination any time soon.

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