By Geraldine Mirabile
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A.I. and a world with emotions eliminated

New film The Beast translates this generalised sense of anxiety and projects it onto a future dominated by artificial intelligence
Issue 2907
Léa Seydoux and George MacKay star as Gabrielle and Louis

Léa Seydoux and George MacKay star as Gabrielle and Louis in The Beast

Bertrand Bonello’s latest film The Beast left me confused. It’s set in a future where emotions are considered detrimental to human progress.

It follows Gabrielle, played by Léa Seydoux, as she undergoes a technologically advanced procedure to eradicate her painful emotions.

This main narrative is entangled with her past lives and recurring encounters with her lover Louis, played by George MacKay.

There are several time jumps, going back and forth between the decades before the First World War in Paris, to a dystopian 2044 future world and to a 2014 Los Angeles which looks like a David Lynch film.

Bonello takes inspiration from The Beast in the Jungle a short 1903 novel by Henry James.

James’ book is based on the idea of a man petrified by fear of an undetermined and impending catastrophe.

The film translates this generalised sense of anxiety and paralysing dread and projects it onto a future dominated by artificial intelligence (AI).

The film’s scenes are frequently interrupted by video glitches and alternate outcomes.

This stylistic choice seems to suggest that it is all in Gabrielle’s mind during her purification rite.

There is really a missed opportunity for the film to delve deeper into what is genuinely scary —the real “beast” that is the alienation and commodification of modern life.

That is what sparks real fears for the human experience under capitalism.

The protagonists’ performance could have been a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of systemic oppression.

And it could have highlighted the importance of interpersonal relationships as a form of resistance against a dehumanising society.

The film could have been a critique about the notion that technological advance requires the sacrifice of human well-being.

And it could have challenged the audience to consider who benefits from technological breakthroughs in a system where profit comes first.

At the end, the film dodges a traditional credit roll with a QR code that viewers have to scan.

The irony is not lost on me—the only moment in which the film industry gives credit to the crew is replaced by an anonymous QR code.

The Beast is in cinemas now


Unmasking the horrors caused by corporate drug pushers

Dopesick, available now on BBC iPlayer, is a devastating exposure of how drug firms wreck lives for profit.

It charts how bosses of Purdue Pharma spread the use of the opioid Oxycontin, paying doctors to say it was safe.

They also bent the authorities to say it was non-addictive and corrupted politicians to stop investigations.

They ruthlessly sold more and more of it even as the bodies piled high from overdoses and the effects of addiction.

Well over a million people have died in the United States since 1999 from drug overdoses and over 70 percent of such deaths have involved an opioid.

Just when you think the firm can go no lower they carry out another breath-taking horror.

Faced with irrefutable evidence of addiction, they find a doctor who will say that the reason for the addiction is because people are still suffering pain.

They therefore need higher doses of the drug. Bosses recruit a pushy, money-obsessed salesforce and set them out to win over doctors with handouts and junkets.

The eight-part series never flags. It denounces the whole Big Pharma system.

And it has a strong sense of class, showing how the drug first broke through in areas where workers used painkillers to keep turning up for manual jobs even though they had suffered horrible injuries and recurrent disease.

The series, first made in 2021, is as relevant as ever. And although it shows people fighting for justice and making some gains, it doesn’t pretend that the villains have gone.

To watch Dopesick on BBC iPlayer go to tinyurl.com/Dopesick0524

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