The gender gap in modern film making is so painfully wide, a piece like Animals is still a rarity
Animals is a beautiful reminder that cinema centred on the female psyche, the female viewpoint and the characters that operate within these circumstances, have almost an endless length of cord from which to work from. The gender gap in modern film making is so painfully wide, a piece like Animals is still a rarity, and that means it feels vividly fresh. Bringing together its realisation as a quality production with exciting direction and a duo of brilliant lead performances, Animals becomes a fascinating analysis of friendship and how negative a superficially positive relationship can actually be.
Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) are inseparable, living together in an old, rundown London flat. Continuously driving each other into bad decisions, toward a stagnate state of adulthood, the pair justify their flaws with their undying love for each other. Yet when Laura falls in love with an incredible concert pianist, the pair’s dynamic changes, leaving Tyler forgotten, their love strained, and the socially unacceptable actions they keep making seem a little less justified.
Animals emotional nature feels real because of these actions. Ordinary women doing bad things is a severely underused theme in cinema, and can become an incredible creative device, with relative ease. Animals runs its characters on these principles, and the genuine anxiety and gasps it brings out of an audience are exhilarating and excruciating in equal measure.
Grainger and Shawkat sell their characters particularly well, offering a millennial’s take on how difficult life can be, trying to find ways to protect oneself and those you love from the pain it can bring. Boiled down, Animals is a film about love, and how love can ravage anything if a situation turns for the worse. It’s an overused theme, but director Sophie Hyde and screenwriter Emma Jane Unsworth still make it feel fresh.
Animals is thoroughly engaging and brings together a societal reality that so many overlook or interpret incorrectly. Animals is a film for millennials about millennials, but offers so much to those who mistake the current state of the United Kingdom as an easy country for young people to make a living in.
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