Beau Is Afraid Trailer: Joaquin Phoenix Meets Ari Aster

Photo: A24.

Joaquin Phoenix is known for playing some strange characters, and he may be a perfect match for  horror/thriller director Ari Aster. The acclaimed combo give a glimpse into their ambitious A24 collaboration in the trailer for the bizarre-but-intriguing adventure Beau is Afraid. Phoenix stars in the titular role of Beau in what is described as a decades-long odyssey of a paranoid man trying to get home to his mother. Along the way he encounters frightful looks into his past, present, and perhaps future.

Aster is no stranger to the maligned and macabre, fresh off his A24 horror debut Hereditary (2018) and its follow-up Midsommar (2019). Those films showcased Aster’s skills behind the camera in creating dramatic tension with strong performances from his lead actors and visually striking cinematography. Previously titled Disappointment Blvd, Beau is Afraid will be Aster’s third feature for A24.

Beau appears at first glance to build on Aster’s strengths, challenging the scope of his previous work and audience expectations alike. In an age where trailers typically overshare plot information and key moments, Beau is Afraid leaves more questions than answers while also provoking the viewers to want more.  With a reported runtime of nearly 180 minutes, Beau Is Afraid will allow plenty of time to elaborate.

Set to the 1979 hit “Goodbye Stranger” by Supertramp, the Beau Is Afraid trailer sets up an actor known for eccentric characters on a neurotic quest. Often centered in the frame, Phoenix’s looks of confusion and fear drive the cryptic plot. Tracking shots following him through desolate streets and whip-pan “vertigo” shots down hallways highlight subjective nightmare imagery. After escaping a house of strange captors, Beau flees into the woods with the camera following closing behind or beside him on a Oz-like adventure into the wild.

The “stranger in a strange land” motif is highlighted by a possible post-apocalyptic society, different depictions of Beau throughout time—young and old—and even an animated fantasy-world landscape. The trailer may not provide the exact details of Beau’s story, how he got here or where he’s going, but it’s certain to piques fans’ curiosities. Like Toni Collette and Florence Pugh as the leads in Hereditary and Midsommar, Phoenix is going to be another of Aster’s lead characters put through the ringer.

While Aster’s first two features exhibited some occasional dark humor, Beau seems to convey a more light and humorous tone in contrast to the dread and horror of Hereditary and Midsommar.  The creative compositions of a potential animated fantasyland that Beau enters appear a cross between Wes Anderson and David Lynch, suggesting new directions for Aster. Aster is also leaning on the reputation and talent of Joaquin Phoenix to carry the film as its quirky but likable protagonist.  Much like his standout work in the Spike Jones film Her, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, and his Academy Award-winning performance in Todd Phillips’ Joker, Phoenix looks to match the energy of his zany and unpredictable source material.

Written and directed by Aster and starring Phoenix, Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan, Parker Posey, and Patti LuPone, Beau Is Afraid is scheduled to open in theaters April 21, 2023.

A poster of Beau is Afraid, depicting the character at four different life stages.

Written by Seth Lamey

Film Studies graduate from Winona State University. Cinema management experience and multimedia film criticism/analysis work.


Leave a Reply
  1. Excellent depiction and analysis of the trailer! Heavy Charlie Kaufman “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” vibes to me. Stoked on this one quite a bit! Looking forward to seeing more of your write ups as well! Good job 👍

Leave a Reply

Film Obsessive welcomes your comments. All submissions are moderated. Replies including personal attacks, spam, and other offensive remarks will not be published. Email addresses will not be visible on published comments.

Muhammad Ali, Jr. pretends to box in front of a large photo of his father the boxer Muhammad Ali.

My Father Muhammad Ali: Documentary Explores Legend’s Son’s Traumas

Two competitors play chess as an audience observes intently

Chess Story Masterfully Adapts Zweig to the Screen Once Again