VOD REVIEW: Billie Piper’s Rare Beasts a schlocky, shocking backfire

There’s an incredible film hidden in the depths of Billie Piper’s directorial debut, but one would have to dig through the messier narrative bits here to find it.

Dubbed an “anti rom-com”, the main difficulty I have with Rare Beasts is that its characters are so incredibly vile that I have trouble rooting for a single one of them.

writer-director Piper makes a whip-smart film with surprising dialogue, but what she loses is a beating heart and anyone we can root for.

It follows a young single mother named Mandy, who pushes hard in her career and becomes enamoured with the bewildering, strange Pete.

The two are an awkward match made in heaven, but frankly, the two act like petulant children for most of this work’s duration.

Piper’s film was shown at 2020’s iteration of SXSW Film Festival, but I hardly feel it is worth all the praise that’s been heaped on it.

For every clever bit, there’s another scene that simply feels misguided. For every character development, two others take a step back.

The performances from Piper, Leo Bill, Kerry Fox and the always-welcome David Thewlis are great, but that was to be expected here.

It’s a frustrating endeavour, and one I doubt I’ll care to revisit in the future.

2/5 Stars

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