Rare Beasts sees a directorial debut by former pop star and actor Billie Piper. Piper fails to create an interesting dissection on the characteristics of masculinity and femininity.
Piper performs and directs our leading character, Mandy in her debut Rare Beasts. Taking her struggling character through the downfall of love and life portraying the rare beasts of emotions and struggling parenthood.
However, this film still manages to completely miss the post. Instead of carrying the conversational torch about gender roles in society, Piper chooses chaos. Opting to use stylistic absurdism and bizarre dialogue distracts us from actually making any grounds with the film.
Contrastingly, Piper does manage to construct a semi-decent argument about the rom-com genre, dates go wrong; London is aesthetic, and a kitsch wedding complete with a Lily James cameo makes jest of the Richard Curtis-era of romantics.
Where traditionally audience would expect a narrative depiction of Mandy’s experience finding love, Piper pulls the rug from beneath our feet at every turn. Instead, we are given a visceral experience which Piper admitted pulls direct inspiration from Paul Thomas Anderson.
For an actress such as Piper to have been around in the media industry since the late 90s with her music career and subsequently becoming a household name appearing in the reboot of Doctor Who, it perplexes me that Piper’s independent release Rare Beasts feels both un-timely and relevant in the same breath.
With lead acting credits including The Secret Diary of a Call Girl and I Hate Suzie both written by Lucy Prebble, I personally would have expected more of Prebble’s penmanship over Rare Beasts, or at least for Piper’s own experiences to shine through more than becoming an amalgamation of previous roles including Craig Roberts’ Eternal Beauty, co-starring with David Thlewis who stars also in Rare Beasts.
Thematically, the film tries hard to replicate the joys of British anti-romantic dramas like Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. With a spunky venomous dialogue that fills a story with vacuous pointlessness throughout all acts.
Ultimately for a directorial debut, it’s a good start for Billie Piper in making a cinematic name for herself. However, the film becomes style over substance and loses itself along the way.