VARIETY By Holly Jones
World premiering in Cannes’ Premiere section, Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s thriller “The Beasts”(“As Bestas”) has shared with Variety its poster, crafted by James Verdesoto at New York’s Indika Entertainment Advertising, who as creative director at Miramax was responsible for the original award-winning film poster of “Pulp Fiction,” as well as those for “The Piano” and “The Crying Game,” among 200 posters.
In advance of its Cannes bow, “The Beasts’” sales agent Latido Films has granted Variety an exclusive first look at its key art campaign, which may well drive to the heart of the film.
The poster depicts three men entangled, close up. Two men grasp a third whose mouth opens in agony, consumed by a raw, animalistic rage, in a vertical tangle. The characters are nearly unrecognizable, anguish on their faces, the hostility of the attack quite palpable. One demonstrates subjugation to the struggle, the attackers’ clothes speckled with dirt as they work to restrain this perceived adversary.
“By keeping the likeness of the actors nondescript, it allowed us to focus on the moment and what was occurring, which was this human experience, this tragedy and this mystery, which displayed an element of suffocation and physical force,” revealed James Verdesoto, who founded Indika with business partner Vivek Mathur.
Based on real-life events, “The Beasts,” written by Sorogoyen and longtime co-scribe Isabel Peña, follows a married couple, Vincent and Olga (played by France’s Denis Menochet and Marina Fois, who move to a small village in Galicia, North-West Spain, seeking a peaceful life.
But they are met with hostility, especially from brothers Xan and Lorenzo. The couple’s refusal to endorse a wind farm takes tensions to a point of no return.
Certain to embrace the visceral and raw gaze that characterises Oscar-nominated Sorogoyen (“Mother”), the film also nods to Galicia’s Rapa das Bestas, where locals grapple untamed horses in order to cut their manes and ride them, an event that served to inform the narrative as well as the art campaign.
“I really thought the opening scene was shot in a brilliant way that allowed us to start that journey with the film. The juxtaposition of man versus beast, and who’s a beast and who is who, that thrilling moment got the ball rolling in creating the visuals for the poster,” said Verdesoto. He goes on: “That energy, beauty and tone captured in the Rapas das Bestas ceremony is what I felt drove the film’s story for me and informed what direction I wanted to follow in creating visuals for the poster.”
In “The Beasts,” Sorogoyen, known for gritty kinetic camerawork that evokes high and scenic tension, keeps a keen internal eye on the male psyche and the traumatic and tense underpinnings of powerful societal structures that coddle its inherent violence.
“The Beasts” is produced out of Spain by Ibon Cormenzana, Ignasi Estapé y Sandra Tapia at Arcadia and Sorogoyen and Eduardo Villanueva at Caballo Films and, from France, Thomas Pibarot, Jean Labadie and Anne-Laure Labadie at Le Pacte.
“As Bestas” continues Sorogoyen’s study of masculinity, violence and the fragile imbalance between. The themes weave a common thread between his prior titles, including breakout film “May God Save Us,” a dysphoric and twisted serial killer drama that reflects on men who can’t control their own actions, and acclaimed TV series “Riot Police,” about men struggling to meet societal expectations of what it means to be a man.
Commenting on Sorogoyen’s evocative approach to “The Beasts,” Verdesoto remarked, “There was this newness that came from Rodrigo’s film. It allowed me to join forces with that vision and try to honor that in the poster, by finding one iconic moment that captured the impact that the film had on me.” He goes on: “We really just wanted to capture the raw human energy that the film had. I see it as an auteur piece, and I wanted to honor the lead actors’ performances, the story and the quality of the filmmaking.”
Having worked on high-profile campaigns for “Pulp Fiction” and independent foreign films such as “Y Tu Mama También” and “El Angel,” Verdesoto strives to achieve harmony with the director’s vision, taking on the Herculean task of enticing an audience into the theater while immortalizing a film in a succinct still.
“The understanding that the filmmaker and the marketing teams have to trust us, it’s almost like handing over a baby and knowing that we will do what’s best for it. It’s a privilege to be trusted to do anything we can to honor and represent it in an artistic context, with graphic design, color, photography,” Verdesoto stated. “It all starts from a sketch, because we really believe in the handmade quality of the process.”