Evan Peters (X-Men) and Barry Keoghan (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) star in this docudrama that cleverly blurs the line between reality and fiction and introduces us to a group of people who convince themselves that pulling off one thrilling crime can change their lives for the better – But can it?
American Animals | MA15+ | Thriller
Director: Bart Layton
Cast: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Ann Dowd
Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.
Initially, Layton is a bit too eager to prove how clever the blending of re-enactment and interview is, and to that end I was a bit put off by some of the more gimmicky moments toward the beginning of the film. However, after this shaky start, it does away with the tricks and settles into a very comfortable rhythm, and totally drew me in. This is a thoroughly entertaining heist film with a twist, and is ultimately very successful in combining documentary and re-enactments. Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters are both terrific in the two lead roles.
This film surprised me. Going in I didn’t know a lot and I think that was a good way to approach it. It does very well to mix reality with fiction in the docudrama style. The reality is there as a humble and heartfelt support to the more cinematic and dramatic scenes of re-enactment. Some moments felt slightly weak, but overall I can’t find much to fault here. Gripping from the start, it’s a smooth ride that takes you along with it and gives you all the information you need in a thoroughly enjoyable way. An interesting spin on what could’ve been just another heist movie, or just another docudrama.
Although I honestly think this real story isn’t movie material as the whole “real” robbery looks damn stupid to me however acting, direction and editing made this movie enjoyable, which slows a bit at times, but covers the climax scenes such as the robbery appropriately as well as how the characters changed during the period. Strong acting and good use of the real individuals added weight to the story, especially as they recall their choices and the impact it would have on the lives of everyone they knew. Although entertaining, it could have done with more humor and slickness without celebrating their crimes too much.
This film beat the expectations that I didn’t know I had! It had my attention from the very beginning because parts of it felt so much like a documentary even though I knew it had been scripted. It took some adjusting to watch a film about something only slightly spectacular, yet finding it more engaging than huge Hollywood blockbusters. A great tale of average American young adults making idiotic plans, thinking it’ll turn out like it does in the movies. A great film to watch and discuss.
I really liked the way it was put together. It was quirky and funny, the pacing was always interesting and I thought it was a cool new take on how a documentary/reenactment show could work. It’s pretty solid!
What did you think of American Animals? We’d love to hear your thoughts! And make sure you stay up to date with the films so you can join in the conversation next fortnight.
And the next film is…
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot | M | Biography
Director: Gus Van Sant
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black
On the rocky path to sobriety after a life-changing accident, John Callahan discovers the healing power of art, willing his injured hands into drawing hilarious, often controversial cartoons, which bring him a new lease on life.