"Although the narrative may contain a distant echo of a grisly real-life case from the 1960s, Beast owes a greater debt to the traditions of the fairytale, and is cut from the same inspirational cloth as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, with a touch of the stranded desperation of Joanna Hogg’s Archipelago. The title, which is deliberately ambiguous, seems to allude to Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s beloved Beauty and the Beast, but there’s also a whiff of Walerian Borowczyk’s controversially erotic (and once-banned) La Bête. Certainly, there’s a subversive European flavour to Pearce’s ambitious Brit-pic that keeps us guessing about its characters’ motives as it slides between genres (melodrama, crime thriller, beastly chiller) with ease. Tonally, I was reminded at times of François Ozon’s deeply unsettling Regarde la mer, with its sharp juxtaposition of sensual island sunshine and murderously dark deception. While Beast pulses with sweeping primal themes, it’s the details that ensure that it gets its claws into an audience. An early scene in which Moll is casually sidelined at her own birthday party speaks volumes about her family history and the yoke under which she now struggles. Later, she digs her muddy nails into the family sofa – a powerful image of lusty defiance. As Hilary, Geraldine James is impressively oppressive, but there’s a hint of terror behind her authoritarian manner. She may be a scary mum, but Hilary is also clearly frightened of her daughter – of what she might do, what she might become. Contrasting the breathtaking vistas of the Jersey exteriors with the conservative confines of Moll’s home-life interiors (the latter were shot in Surrey), Pearce and cinematographer Benjamin Kračun conjure an archetypal landscape in which disparate worlds collide. As Moll moves from one environment to the other, so the form of the film itself shifts, with elegantly orchestrated compositions giving way to more free-form, handheld sequences. The result is a smart and sinewy psychodrama that maintains a delicate balance between its warring elements right through to the final frames. "