Ari Astaire’s All Fears Bo is the craziest and weirdest movie of the year so far. But not the scariest. It has nothing to do with ‘Reincarnation’ and ‘Solstice’ – but there’s Joaquin Phoenix (and he’s gorgeous as always)

Director Ari Aster, who directed the groundbreaking horror films Reincarnation and “Solstice”, released a new picture – “All the fears of Bo” (from May 4 it can be seen in Russia). Fans of the director absolutely should not expect something similar to Astaire’s previous works – this time the plot is much more complex, unpredictable and, unexpectedly, not scary at all. Meduza film critic Anton Dolin watched Bo’s All Fears and explains why – along with another great role from Joaquin Phoenix – it’s worth watching.

Perhaps Ari Astaire’s new work, in which Joaquin Phoenix played a titanic role, will surprise you unpleasantly – but there is no need to dissuade you from watching.

Let’s start with the main one. Despite the word “fears” in the title, this is not a horror movie. It’s impossible to determine the genre of the exhausting image, but it’s certainly not scary. Although there are unexpected and shocking moments here, the feeling of discomfort does not go away from the first to the last frame. All the comparisons that come to mind refer to the broken world of modernism. Kafkaesque absurdity? Bunuel on? The new “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”? Intimate Joycian epic?

The analogy with “Ulysses” will be the most accurate. After all, the hero of the picture, the same Bo, with whom Astaire is obsessed from the very first steps in the business (a huge film was born from the short film “Bo” in 2011), will only make a short trip to visit his mother – and it will seem that in three hours we will live with him all his life, literally from birth in the scene before the credits to presumed death in the credits of the last. Almost like in Samuel Beckett – by the way, Joyce’s youngest comrade.

The original title “Beau afraid”, of course, should be translated literally, especially since the Russian formulation “Bo afraid” contains a beautiful alliteration. “All Fears Bo” sounds more normal, and that’s a problem. The beauty and inferiority of Astaire’s film lies in its failure to live up to standards and expectations. Why fool the public by passing off as ordinary cinema something that doesn’t even pretend to be?

The hero’s path begins in the office of a psychotherapist, to whom Beau, a crumpled and neurotic middle-aged man (for the role of Phoenix has again changed outwardly – and changes several times during the film), admits that intends to visit his mother. Admittedly, Bo isn’t even easy to get into his home: he lives in a dysfunctional neighborhood, with eyes full of criminals, psychopaths, drug addicts, and dangerous eccentrics. The water was turned off at the entrance, a dangerous poisonous spider roams the apartments.

Reaching the mother proves no easier than for Achille to catch up with the tortoise, and for surveyor K. to enter the Castle. The very attempt to leave the house ends in a deafening fiasco: a stranger steals a suitcase and the keys to the apartment right at the door, so Bo is late for the plane. But when he tells his mother, she, of course, doesn’t believe it. And – it seems, out of revenge – soon dies from a ridiculous accident. Now, if Bo joins her, he’ll only go to the funeral.

I don’t want to spoil the fun with spoilers, no matter how specific. Let’s review the movie in fast motion (one of the best scenes is that Bo rewinds his life and gets a “spoiler” about the future). Absurd hero completely unfit for life awaits car accident with multiple injuries, encounter with veteran with PTSDa stranger’s suicide, an escape through the woods and a performance of the mysterious wandering “Orphan Theater” – this episode will have you comparing poor Bo with a curious inappropriate Pinocchio. This will also explain Astaire’s half-joking statement that his film is “the Jewish Lord of the Rings”: only instead of the hobbit Frodo – Bo, and instead of the fatal mountain Orodruin – the mother’s house.

However, if it is a fairy tale, then with a difficult age rating. On his way, Bo sleeps with the woman of his dreams, discovers the shocking truth about his father (whom he never knew, he died immediately after conceiving his son), and then finds himself in a merciless lawsuit. – Kafka’s “Trial” and the finale of Alan’s “Wall” are already remembered by Parker and Pink Floyd.

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you don’t get sued,” Joseph Heller’s famous quote could be the epigraph to Bo’s All Fears. With each image of this story, there is more and more hysteria and grotesqueness, as if Aster had given himself the mission of filming and materializing all the phobias that can haunt a modern city dweller. With its “Reincarnation”, the new image is linked to the leitmotif of the demolition of the head, in the literal sense.

Decapitation is an intelligible metaphor: to completely surrender to this film and submit to its dreamlike logic, rationality must be completely extinguished. Then at least it will be possible not only to be constantly surprised, but also to enjoy the inventive tricks of the cameraman Pavel Pogorzhelsky, the atmospheric music of Bobby Krlich and the transformations of Joaquin Phoenix.

Of the rest of the cast, I’d like to mention Francois Ozon’s textured favorite Denis Menoche in a consciously silent role and the invariably handsome indie diva Parker Posey, who played one – but what! – an erotic scene.

The A24 studio, which brought fame and money to Ari Aster (however, it remains to be seen who enriched whom), took this film seriously, giving the author complete freedom. With no less quirky, but still more fun “Everything is everywhere and at the same time” it worked, but that does not guarantee the success of every experiment.

Astaire’s magnum opus is more reminiscent of the craziest films of Terry Gilliam (for example) or Charlie Kaufman – both megalomaniac and depressing. And the complex dynamics of Bo’s relationship with his mother, intentionally or not, continues the line “Joker” Todd Phillips.

With all the bells and whistles, “All Beau’s Fears” ultimately adds up to a simple Freudian parable. An infantile man beyond his years is afraid of intimacy and especially sex, because he is completely dependent on an overbearing mother – how many such stories have we seen, read and heard?

Yet never has a mundane story been told with so much passion, inventiveness, randomness and fearlessness. I’d like to suspect something extremely personal to the creator in this – then stop dead in my tracks, reminding myself in time that a film critic doesn’t have to be a psychotherapist.

24 films from the A24 studio “Lighthouse”, “The Legend of the Green Knight”, “Solstice”. The legendary film studio is 10 years old

24 films from the A24 studio “Lighthouse”, “The Legend of the Green Knight”, “Solstice”. The legendary film studio is 10 years old

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