Based on the novella by Henry James, The Beast in the Jungle (2019) depicts the enigmatic love story of John Marcher and May Bartram. Their duet around an ominous secret is captured in a style both physical and poetic. Set in a remote countryside mansion, the story stretches over a century, spiralling from the Jamesian late 19th century to the global present.
What is really striking about this fairly loose adaptation of Henry James' turn of the 20th Century novella is the use of natural light/shadow. Clara van Gool creates something akin to the original Merchant Ivory look that is very natural and comfortable to observe. Unfortunately, the substance doesn't keep pace with the look. Deliberately, the characters seem to dance, literally, around each other sustained only slightly by a limiting dialogue. The timelines shift about from WWII to 21st century London with "John Marcher" (Dane Hurst) a man who believes his future is predestined to be defined by an event of an immense nature. He meets up, after an absence of ten years or so, with "May Bartram" (Sarah Reynolds) and she hangs about with him as they both await this "cataclysmic" event. It requires a considerable degree of concentration and despite some people suggesting it may be semi-autobiographical, I don't really believe there is enough substance in the story to keep this beautifully photographed piece interesting.
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