AS BESTAS (THE BEASTS) (Spain/France 2022) Top 10 *****
Directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen


Antonio (Denis Ménochet) and Olga (Marina Foïs) are a French couple who love the rural life, settled some time ago in a village in the interior of Galicia in Spain. They lead a quiet life ther , seeking closeness with nature, (Antonio says he loves the land and refuses to sign his land away to a turbine company) although their coexistence with the locals is not as idyllic as they would like.  A conflict about the modern windmills with their neighbours, the Anta brothers (Luis Zahera, Diego Anido), will cause tension to grow in the village until it reaches a point of no return.

The main problem between the couple and the brothers is the sale of the land to a turbine company.  The sale can only take place if votes go in the favour of selling the land.  The brothers want out of farming while the French couple refuse to sign.  The brothers use underhanded tactics to scare the couple, a few very nasty ones.

The script covers all the corners of the conflict.

One is a civilized discussion of conflict solving,  Antonio initiates a talk at the local bar, buying the brothers drinks.  The audience sees both sides of the story.  Antonio also tries to convince the brothers that the money obtained from the sale of the land is not enough for a settlement anywhere else.  The old adage goes that one cannot argue with idiots.  And the Anta brothers are clear idiots who are not only stupid but have no education nor common sense.  One of the brother’s slowness is attributed by the other brother from falling off a horse when younger.

The other discussion is between husband and wife, Antonio and Olga.  At night in bed, they discuss their options.  The wife offers valuable points in her arguments.  “We did not come here to fight.  The brothers will never change.  They are uncontrollable.”  But Antonio makes the valid point that they are out of options.  And money.  They have used their savings and need one good harvest at least if they decide to see their land.

Antonio has also made a complaint with the local police who do nothing to elevate the situation or help the couple.  All they say is: “We will talk to them.”

THE BEASTS is a gruelling edge of the seat thriller with things escalating from bad to worse to unbearable for the poor French couple.  Director Sorogoyen stages very intense confrontation set pieces with rising tensions and danger  The intensity of the situation is meticulously built up to a climax that will knock the audience off their seats.

THE BEASTS is not as  pleasant as JEAN DE FLORETTE neighbour farmer against neighbour farmer drama or even as pleasant as slasher/horror flick Sam Peckinpah’s THE STRAW DOGS.  The more harrowing fact is that the film is based on a true story, documented in Santoalla (2016) and re-written with fictional characters, with incidents feeling horribly raw and authentic.  The want for land brings out the worst in human beings.


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