La Bête (The Beast)

La Bête (The Beast) FL, 2023, 4 stars

A winning Bête

Star-crossed, across time

Exclusive to MeierMovies, April 15, 2023

Few phrases conjure the magic of pre-destined love like “Have we met before?” Tweak that to “Have you killed me before?” and you have the multi-lingual, multi-temporal La Bête (The Beast) in a nutshell.

George MacKay (1917) and Léa Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Colour, The French Dispatch) play star-crossed lovers in 2044 dystopian Paris. Given the option of a futuristic lobotomy courtesy of AI, they must first contemplate their past lives – in 1910 flood-ravaged Paris and 2014 Los Angeles – when their love affairs were doomed. These mental and spiritual trips through reincarnation station give them, and us, the chance to decide whether their destinies have already been decided or whether, like the characters in Henry James’ The Beast in the Jungle, they have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Director and co-writer Bertrand Bonello based this surreal romance on James’ 1903 novella, but it also owes a debt to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jacob’s Ladder, Love Streams (the naked man/dog scene), Vanilla Sky and Somewhere in Time. One can almost hear Elise McKenna asking Richard Collier, “Is it you?” Yes, it is he, and in both Somewhere in Time and La Bête, as William Fawcett Robinson predicted, he came to destroy her, again and again.

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This capsule review is part of my coverage of the 2024 Florida Film Festival. To find out when this movie is playing and buy tickets, go to For more information about the event and an index of reviews of other festival films, go here. For more information on this movie, visit IMDB.