“Beef” is one of Netflix’s finest offerings to date. And above all, its success is about chemistry.

Credit: TV Insider

“Beef” is a Netflix collaboration with the cult film production group A24. It stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong as two lost adults who find purpose in an ongoing feud. Danny (Yeun), is a failing contractor. Amy (Wong), is an entrepreneur. They meet one day in a road rage incident – where the two are one gas-stomp away from murdering each other.

Instead, the two engage in a lawless boxing bout. This results in a black hole, that draws in in everyone around them. However, Danny and Amy’s tension delivers insight into their own lives as we comprehend what “Beef” is saying. Who are these individuals? And what occurred in their lives to get them to this point of enmity?

Not a Lighthearted Comedy

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Much like its lead characters, “Beef” takes its time to form an immediate emotional bond, but not without justification. Its genre-defying script strikes a unique balance between humour and pathos. And this avoids the tired tropes of formulaic Hollywood dramas.

It’s a refreshing departure from the low-effort, cookie-cutter productions that saturate streaming platforms. This brooding series delves into the depths of human emotion as jaded characters grapple with their inner demons. Despite some witty dialogue, this movie doesn’t lend itself to being a lighthearted comedy. Lee Sung Jin’s unique perspective and unexpected plot twists tenderise the beef of this film. And his performance makes it a delicacy worth savouring.

The quality of “Beef” is unsurprising for those acquainted with Wong and Yeun’s oeuvre. With impressive performances in both American and South Korean cinema, this former Walking Dead cast member is quickly becoming a rising star.

Character Work

Yeun’s recent roles in “Nope” and “Minari” have solidified his place as a talented actor to watch. Additionally, his work in the South Korean psychological thriller “Burning” is garnering critical acclaim.

And with her bold and unapologetic approach to comedy, standup performer Amy Wong is a perfect fit for the role of Amy. Her latest Netflix special, which delves into the complexities of family life and divorce, showcases her talent for delivering raunchy yet feminist commentary.

Credit: Film Fugitives

Throughout the series, Amy’s unique method of stress relief involves using a gun for self-pleasure, and this actress brings the character to life with her palpably fearless portrayal. The dynamic duo of Wong and Yeun previously lent their voices to the avian-themed animated series “Tuca & Bertie”. However, this time around, their collaboration demands a more profound emotional commitment.

The Verdict

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“Beef” delivers an enigmatic delight, and in a landscape where many Netflix productions lack clarity, this is a reason to rejoice. It masterfully keeps the audience guessing with its indirect and thought-provoking writing. And the soundtrack, featuring popular songs from the 2000s by Hoobastank and Björk, leaves one wondering if it’s a sincere or satirical choice, or perhaps a bit of both.

In a poignant moment of the second episode, Amy delivers a thought-provoking line to the uninterested neighbourhood busybody Naomi (Ashley Park); stating that anger is merely a fleeting state of mind.

However, the idea that anger is a powerful force that unleashes both destructive and constructive outcomes, persists endlessly throughout the series. We can see this in an intense and thought-provoking episode, “Anger as Fuel”; that explores the undeniable power of anger as a driving force. With a raw and honest portrayal, this movie leaves audiences contemplating the true nature of this complex emotion. Fuel is a necessary component in this film, serving its purpose without stealing the spotlight.

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