Saturday 15 September 2018

Film: 'American Animals'

Having ascertained that, title notwithstanding, this had next to nothing to do with real animals, this sounded like an unusual take on the familiar heist film - which it, in fact, turned out to be. 

With cast entirely unknown to me, this true(-ish?) tale of four Kentucky University students (actually filmed in North Carolina) planning to pull off a robbery of rare books from a special collections museum and live the high-life from the disposal proceeds, works really well for the most part - and it's given some veracity with intercutting by the true original characters who'd spent prison time for the crime, recalling direct to camera the events of the planning and execution of the robbery. Nice touch also to have their memories of the events conflict with one another in the way which, as we all know, happens in real life.
The idea that the robbery should be committed in full daylight by the quartet disguising themselves as old men was as ludicrous as the notion that people of advanced age are 'near invisible' - when they are seen together they looks as conspicuous as a brace of peacocks! Seen individually they might just get away with it though under their disguises their smooth, youthful, unlined skin would have been a dead giveaway - though one doesn't give unknown old people a close visual scrutiny, so fair enough. They are not together in a group for very long anyway.  
I liked the idea, even as based on actual events, that their initial attempt falters in a big way. In a heist film there always is something that goes wrong, though not normally to the extent of jeopardising the entire enterprise, as this does. It keeps one very interested as to what was going to happen next.

This is director (and writer) Bart Layton's first full-length feature film and he's to be commended for it (he's also done considerable TV and documentary work, though his name is new to me). He's taken an unusual story with angles which haven't been over-employed before, and given it legs - and I'd suggest that it's definitely worth a 'see'.................7

( IMDb.................7.1 / Rott. Toms.................7.9 )


  1. I thought it was a great film, very enjoyable afternoon's entertainment, and agree it is definitely worth seeing for those who have time for such frolicks as going regularly to the cinema. Shame you obviously never got to see Killing of the Sacred Deer because Barry Keoghan would have been familiar to you. An unusual film and it worked.

    1. I did indeed see 'Killing of....', Rachel:-

      In fact this was my #5-liked film of 2017, though I didn't recall the cast other than the two big names. 'Ta' for pointing out a name that then, and even now, meant little to me.

    2. I thought you had seen it but the missing of Barry Keoghan assured me that you couldn't have possibly seen it. How did you not recognise him as he has rather a distinctive face? And he did play one of the most important parts in Killing. Oh well, our brains all work in different ways. Anyway, what matters is we both liked the film and for all its possible mine fields it did not fall down one.

    3. Recognising faces in real life has always been a particular difficulty of mine, Rachel - especially when they're seen out of the context in which you know them - and of course acting has no such consistent context. I've got to see them quite a number of times before they register. I've failed to recognise relatives even when talking face to face with them if they come up to me unexpectedly. Most embarrassing. I know there's a term for this condition, a word which escapes me right now.

  2. I will definitely follow your suggestion and give it a 'see.'

    This must be a new release in theaters across the pond since both you and Rachel reviewed it. What puzzles me is the way films are released here in America and in The UK. Never saw a theater listing for "Animals" here but noticed that it is now streaming on TV, so I will see this sooner rather than later. The big surprise came when I saw that "The Children Act" was being streamed, since Emma Thompson is making the rounds of the talk shows, promoting the film. Watched it last night and really liked it. Tempted to give it another look.

  3. 'Animals' has the merit of being a bit different, Paul, which is an asset these days where so much has already been tried before.

    It's always been a mystery to me regarding the timetable of releasing films in different countries. It really gets my goat when British films are released all over the world before we ourselves get to see it, which is sometimes last of all. To do with marketing strategy, one assumes.

    I saw a clip of Emma Thompson talking about 'Children Act' on Stephen Colbert's show, though nowhere else. She must also have been on some British TV, which I haven't noticed. Glad you liked 'Act'. I only wish the implausibility of the story which, up to a certain moment, had worked for me, hadn't brought the whole thing crashing down. You obviously disagree, which is fine.