Monday, May 18, 2015

Animals Review

Here we go again. Yet another film about drug addiction and the devastation it leaves in its wake. We have been here before, we have seen that before and when we can revisit pieces of cinema like Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream or Joachim Trier's Oslo, August 31st you tend to wonder if it's even necessary to dip your toes into a new body of water that has not only been charted but done so with excellence. 

Despite this, there is a place for the new film Animals by Collin Schiffli. It's narrative isn't inventive nor does it really carry any memorable heft with it, but its performances are worth the price of admission alone. David Dastmalchian (who also wrote the very good screenplay for the film) plays Jude and Kim Shaw plays Bobbie, and they are a young couple madly in love but hiding behind their smiles and warm embraces are the demons that come with the necessity of their next narcotic fix. While we may not literally see them, it's clear that the track marks on their arms are not fresh because this is a game the two of them have obviously played before. Their life is made up of moving from con to con and hit to hit, finding clever but dangerous ways to score some extra cash to support their ugly habit. 

Schiffli and Dastmalchian demonstrate a lot of talent despite the minimalist canvas they paint on here because while the tone of this picture is obviously grim given the subject matter, they still find a way to break up some of the sadness early on with some gentle warmth and laughs shared between these characters that feels honest and comforting. The brief running time of only around 80 minutes combined with the fact that the sense of dread surrounding their fates is never overbearing makes the film flow nicely, but I did feel a disconnect at times with some of the cons they run. The authenticity that was built up by the chemistry between Jude and Bobbie is washed away in a hurry when some of the scams they pull on unsuspecting people feel a little too convenient, like one involving a lost laptop and a security guard seeking a reward.

Initially I felt the symbolism intended by cutting away from our two lovers to various wild animals in captivity was too on the nose, like we were being beat over the head with a flashing sign that read, these people are trapped by their addiction like a tiger in a zoo, but by the end of the film I felt like the significance of the title Animals had more to offer than that. The picture is not tied up with a pretty little bow and no promises are made for the future, and you may still see these addicts as animals as the credits roll, but perhaps when shown some compassion and offered care they can be quite beautiful.


1 comment:

  1. Off topic i see you have watched Wild Tales I cant wait to read the review oh and i hope you kinda do it as a breakdown of each segment like i did id love to read your favorite and least favorite