Thursday, August 18, 2022

Beat: Movie Review

Stressful, depressing and disorienting.

Beat is an Australian drama about music, life and death. It’s a stressful and depressing watch for a movie that continually chooses negativity and abuse instead of hopefulness. One might think that a movie that opens with a homeless man getting abused on the street for trying to play music and a young woman on death’s door needing a heart transplant would get better with life improving for these characters, but that’s not the case.   2022

Directed by: Jye Currie

Screenplay by: Jye Currie

Starring: Alexandra Jensen, Rachael Carpani, Sebastian Szeszeran, and Alexis Lane

The homeless man (Sebastian Szeszeran) is a gifted pianist who carries around a mini portable piano on a grocery cart, playing on a street corner, hoping for enough loose change to buy a meal. Most days result in angry blokes who hate this man just for existing and they beat him up instead. This happens a lot. Are there really that many abusive assholes in Australia that need to beat up strangers for no reason at all? Apparently, and it’s a very aggravating watch.

The other story is of Susan (Rachael Carpani) who works as a waitress, lives on very little, occasionally drops some change for the homeless man, and then she finds out that her daughter was in a serious car accident and is in need of a heart transplant.

The movie takes a turn for the interesting when Ellie (Alexandra Jensen) receives that transplant and as she attempts to go back to her old life discovers at an open mic night that she is now a gifted pianist. Just out of the blue, is now an expert level concert musician. She also plays original compositions first heard from the homeless man on the street.

This is an indie mystery-drama, reveling in giving as little information as possible to the audience. This results in a lot of confusion in how the two storylines are connected. Two musicians, sharing the same gift of music, are now on opposite trajectories in life.

Ellie was discovered by an agent/manager at that open mic night and is on a fast road to success, booking bigger and bigger concert appearances and earning money her mother would have never dreamed of. For reasons that the film doesn’t care to clarify, Ellie doesn’t handle the newfound, unexplained success very well, and is also on a fast road to drug addiction and abuse. There are quite a few possible reasons why Ellie would feel scared, lonely, or like a fraud, but I think it would be more interesting if the film bothered to identify those.

Presented as a mystery with really fantastic music, Beat just goes from bad to worse with minimal explanations. I’m usually not one for classical piano music, but the score and compositions here are really good and set an interesting tone. The story that it’s connecting is too stressful and depressing to appreciate any mystery in how we get there.
Available to stream on Plex. Available to rent on iTunes, etc.