Billie Piper makes her directorial debut "Rare Beasts"

SXSW 2020: ‘Rare Beasts’ Review

Billie Piper is the writer, director, and actress in her new movie Rare Beasts. This movie premiered early last fall at the Venice Film Festival. Anti-rom-com Rare Beasts follows a single mom in the middle of a women’s revolution to find a man that is best for her and her son. It’s raw and unhinged. It’s masochist and feminist.

Piper makes her directorial debut with this raw rom-com that combines life problems with religious beliefs. Piper plays as Mandy who does not believe in religion and falls for a religious man. She falls for him because she finds his personality more authentic and straight-forward than the average man. 

Check out this clip from Rare Beasts!

Before her directorial debut, Piper was best known for her iconic role as Rose Tyler on Doctor Who (2005-2013). Piper also starred in Penny Dreadful, City of Tiny Lights, and a few other films.

Due to coronavirus concerns, the City of Austin canceled this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) on March 6. However, we were still able to review the film. 

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead!


Billie Piper as Mandy in her directorial debut, "Rare Beasts"
Billie Piper as Mandy in her directorial debut, “Rare Beasts” / Photo credit: Singer Films, Western Edge Pictures

Single mom Mandy (Billie Piper) is career-driven and a nihilist. Mandy manages to raise her 7-year-old boy, Larch (Toby Woolf), and has to deal with the separation of her parents too. She meets a religious man named Pete (Leo Bill). Pete is hopeful and believes that Mandy will marry him within a year. While Mandy tries to find herself with Pete, she finds out her mother is dying of cancer and she tries to deal with that as well. 


Behind-the-scenes shooting a scene on "Rare Beasts"
Behind-the-scenes shooting a scene on “Rare Beasts” / Photo credit: Singer Films, Western Edge Pictures

Coping mechanisms  

The women in the film constantly tap their heads and say “Although I’m (blank), I still love and respect myself.” They practice EFT tapping, a form of counseling that helps create and provide positive energy. If someone taps their temples or collarbone it helps balance their energy levels. Mandy taps her temples and says “Although I’m scared, I still love and respect myself.”

Mandy tries to write about depressed women and her editor tells her they don’t exist. Her editor does not allow Mandy to have a voice if she does only happy vibes. The editor really only keeps Mandy because she’s “hot,” and tries to overlook that her mother is dying. If she was ugly, he would’ve fired her sooner. The men sexualize women and the use of EFT tapping helps them cope.

Music plays with the emotions

Montage music played during Pete and Mandy’s date and when they dance at the wedding reception. Orchestral music plays throughout the film, which added escalation and emotion to the scenes. 

I think the best musical part is when Mandy gets fired: The tempo increases as Mandy throws a chair through the glass window of her job. Then Mandy and Pete run into the streets as the music plays the upbeat tempo. 

It’s not till we hear tap dancing music that we see that Mandy’s passion is tap dancing. We see a montage of Mandy tap dancing while her parents constantly argue through the years of her childhood. Mandy copes with her stress through the dance of tap.

Pete’s religious influence

Pete says he’s religious and Mandy thinks it’s a joke. Mandy’s mom was horrified to hear that Pete was religious. It seems that this one religious man is the black sheep among the other people. While exposing Mandy and Larch to religious practices such as prayers and wedding ceremonies, Larch wants to believe there is heaven too. Whether Pete wanted to or not, he became a religious influence to Larch and that made things hard for Mandy. Mandy allows his son to throw a fit for a religious belief rather than address it. 


This anti-rom-com shows raw emotion with vulgar language and obscenity and gives love in a relationship with a whole new meaning. My best comparison to this film is that it’s very similar to the Netflix show The End of the Fucking World. If you like vulgarity and raw comedy, then you would like this movie.

If you decide to check this film out, let us know what you think on Twitter @GeekGalsco or in the comments below!

Read more of Gracie’s articles here.

Check out more of our SXSW coverage here.

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Featured image credit: Singer Films, Western Edge Pictures

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