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Rare Beasts

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Rare Beasts
Photograph: Republic Film Distribution

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Billie Piper’s sharp-edged directorial debut is a romcom from opposite land

We’re in the midst of a Billie Piper renaissance and I am very much here for it. Last year the former pop star and Doctor Who actor brought us I Hate Suzie, an intense, chaotic drama series about fame, womanhood and toxic relationships. Now she’s released Rare Beasts, her directorial debut and a kind of anti-romcom that’s also... intense, chaotic and a lot about womanhood and toxic relationships. 

Piper stars as Mandy, an unconfident single mum who works in TV and is trying to keep a handle on her life as her son and parents fight for her attention, her boss demands she comes in earlier, and her mates present her with trays of coke. Then along creeps a man. Not a charming man. In fact, a cruel, arrogant, cold man. The kind your mates would never want you to date. She settles – and so begins a very bleak romance. 

It’s not a perfect movie. Sometimes it moves very slowly. Other times the acting is so big it becomes pantomime. But what Piper is incredible at (in both this and I Hate Suzie) is taking the raw, intense, angry energy, that builds when you’re forced to spend too much of your life tackling the toxicity of masculinity around you, and pouring it out like a long line of acid shots for viewers to chug.

Her decision-making as a director is fearless (we see women gurning sweatily, at one point Mandy flashes her arsehole, moments of cruelty have real bite). And the result
is feminism in its realest sense. Not feminism with an empowering, girl-boss message but feminism that shows a flawed woman dealing with some of the awful bits of life as woman. If you’ve ever dated a Very Bad Man, it’s incredibly cathartic.

In UK and US cinemas Fri May 21.

Written by
Kate Lloyd

Cast and crew

  • Director:Billie Piper
  • Screenwriter:Billie Piper
  • Cast:
    • Billie Piper
    • Kerry Fox
    • David Thewlis
    • Toby Woolf
    • Antonia Campbell-Hughes
    • Leo Bill
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