Rare Beasts

As we came out of the cinema we turned to each other and said, what was that all about? The Doctor said – religion, the writer said relationships, I said ‘They fuck you up your mum and Dad’. The two writers are unsure whether we like it, the Doctor said it made her feel that her life was quite blessed in comparison.

Rare Beast is written and directed by Billie Piper. Billed as an ani-romcom, it tells the story of Mandy (Piper) a single mum  living with her divorced, dying and resentful mother (Kerry Fox), both still in touch with her philandering and alcoholic father (David Thewlis), who Mandy claims to hate, and her quirky, possibly autistic, son Larch (Toby Woolf, last seen being adorable in Summer of Rockets). Not quite so charming here – a master of the screaming abdabs.

Starting from what we assume to be a disastrous online date with deeply misogynist and unpleasant Pete (Leo Bill), it turns out they are work colleagues in a dippy trendy production company. Why she is attracted to this abusive man and his bonkers family (even more than her’s) is hard to understand. At this point the message seems to be any man is better than none. Really?

The whole film jangles with discord, from shouting matches,  intrusive music, wildly filmed scenes (a cameo role of Lily James as an Isadora Duncan-style bride) and is generally unsettling viewing. The happiness of the couple juxtaposed with Mandy and Pete’s slanging matches.

I think Piper is saying that everyone needs to be loved but it’s simply not worth being in love or in a relationship with a complete bastard. To my mind, this autobiographical film screeched of being a memoir of – or revenge for – her life with her odious ex-husband, whose name I can’t even mention. Critics loved it, I found it rather unnerving on several fronts. I’m still not sure if I ‘got’ it.


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