Ben Oliver

Banner image for Animals


I’ve always thought we’re not defined by who we are, but by who we try to be.
21 March 2022

Laura, a struggling writer (Holliday Grainger), lives with a party-loving American (Alia Shawkat), Tyler, for ten years. When Laura gets engaged to a concert pianist (Fra Fee), a rift begins to open up between the two friends.

Animals breezes along aimlessly like its protagonists, meandering between artsy pretense and lots of drug use. While it’s often quite endearing, it’s also quite irritating. There’s poetry use in a screenplay and then there’s poetry abuse; this film unfortunately falls firmly in the latter camp. We know the characters are well-read, do we need reminding of this with every line?

The dynamic between the two friends is nothing particularly new, but it’s handled with plenty of humour and bon-vivant carelessness. The refusal to resort to a major wake-up-call event (A drug overdose? A car accident?) and set the characters on a different path has to be applauded, and separates Animals from many of its 30-year-olds-finding-themselves cinematic peers.

Animals is a good time with a bit of a hollow core that almost refuses to commit to any sort of story arc. Perhaps that’s a clever reflection of its character’s lives, but it does make for an occasionally frustrating film to watch.

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