ANIMALS: An Aimless Exploration of Female Friendship – WIN TIX

Well that backfired haha. Claire is our solo female reviewer and a huge supporter of not only indie films but also female films and anything that supports feminism. The trailer basically played like a film made for Kernel Claire. And from the review she was anything but a fan. ANIMALS (sadly) did not deliver what I expected for Claire.

But don’t base your judgement on films purely on our thoughts. If it holds appeal go and see it. It could find different meaning for yourself. To assist this, with thanks to TM Publicity, we have double passes and 2 for 1 vouchers up for grabs. But before you enter – check out the list at the bottom of this post to see if it is releasing in a cinema near you.

And without further ado, enjoy Claire’s review for ANIMALS. It releases on September 12 in Australia, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 109mins.

All the best…………….JK

Animals - Holliday Granger and Alia Shawkat
Holliday Granger and Alia Shawkat

BY CLAIRE SMITH

STORYLINE – I HONESTLY DON’T KNOW:

ANIMALS doesn’t really have a traditional followthrough storyline you’d expect to see in a little indie femme film. It simply follows the friendship of two women in their 30’s as one of the pair jostles to balance a new relationship with their existing friendship.

IMDB seemingly just gave up on the concept of trying to decipher a storyline and just lists the storyline as “Based on the novel ANIMALS by Emma Jane Unsworth”

NO, BUT SERIOUSLY, WHAT’S THE PLOT OF THIS FILM?

Laura (Holliday Grainger – CINDERELLA, MY COUSIN RACHEL) lives in an inner city flat in Dublin with best friend Tyler (Alia Shawkat – ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, WHIP IT). These best friends do everything together – they party together, snooze in the same bed and even check in on each other’s hydration levels by examining each other’s pee. Friendship goals, right?

All seems well until Laura meets the dweeby, mild mannered Jim (Fra Fee –  LES MISERABLES, MONOCHROME) while out partying one evening. Jealous from the outset, Tyler watches on enviously as Laura and Jim’s relationship blossoms. Laura is torn between keeping her best friend happy, or furthering her relationship with Jim.

Honestly, that’s about the extent of it. 

Animals - Holliday Granger and Alia Shawkat
Holliday Granger and Alia Shawkat

CAN THE ACTING KEEP THIS STORYLINE ALOFT?

Director Sophie Hyde (52 TUESDAYS, LIFE IN MOVEMENT) really pulled some performance alchemy with what little plot she was given. The sell-point to the scripting really is the dialogue. It’s sassy and vivacious, albeit a little unbelievable. Case in point, there’s a scene where a lady’s pubic hair catches fire and immediately after swatting out the flames, she makes a zippy retort about having a holy burning bush. Quippy? Yes. Would that reaction realistically happen? No.

The performances overall are really quite believable – at no point does it feel like you’re watching unformed rehearsal characters. It’s just the dialogue that seems more polished than reality. Interesting to listen to but a little jarring at times. 

Alia Shawkat (as Tyler) is usually seen in comedy scripting where timing and delivery is of utmost importance (BROAD CITY, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT). This script challenges her usual norm with only small amounts of comedy traces in her otherwise, edgy, needy performance. She’s the rather unlikeable best friend who reeks of co-dependence, jealousy and stale white wine. It’s a new look for Shawkat and the drama-dy role suits her. Hopefully it’s the start of more to come. 

Animals - Holliday Granger and Alia Shawkat
Holliday Granger and Alia Shawkat

Fra Fee shines as the piano-tickling square, Jim. Fee’s acting credentials are slim in number this far – more renowned for treading the boards as a stage actor than a screen actor, he’s brought a grounded realism to the story with his portrayal as the mild mannered love interest. 

Holliday Grainger portrays her peacemaker character of Laura with a certain poise and aplomb that grounds the ch-ch-cherry bomb that is Tyler. 

Overall the problem with ANIMALS isn’t with performances, it’s really with how unlikeable the players are (and the aforementioned plot – or lack thereof). They characters are self-centered, conniving, self important, well, … animals. 

Even the love interest pairing of Jim and Laura is a bit snooze-worthy. Unsuitable from the outset, we sit and watch them plod through the motions of their relationship while the important milestones (such as getting engaged) play offscreen.

Animals - Holliday Granger and Alia Shawkat
Holliday Granger and Alia Shawkat

IN CONCLUSION:

As much as I love to support female-led films, this one just killed me with boredom. I was ready to leave after half an hour when no real plot had emerged. By an hour in, I was ready to fake a seizure just to leave the screening. As we approached the two-hour mark I was so bored that I honestly can’t remember how the film ends. ANIMALS fits a niche, I’m sure – I just don’t know what that is. It’s important to support little indie films but I just can’t get around this one. The storyline is non-existent, the characters are unlikeable, the plot meanders at best. Ooft it’s a slog to get through. Sadly it makes for a better trailer than a film. 

WIN DOUBLE PASSES TO ANIMALS

With special thanks to TM Publicity to win one of the 5x Double Passes and 5x Two For One Vouchers on offer you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage). Further to this you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite BFF Sisters Movie and why? 

If you do not have social media then you can still enter, leave your entry below in the comments and then email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

This is a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges. 

The prizes will be drawn on or before September 10th. Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.

CINEMAS SCREENING ANIMALS FROM SEPTEMBER 12 IN AUSTRALIA

NSWMt Vic Flix
NSWCinemovie Forbes Cinema
NSWRandwick Ritz
VICLido Cinemas
VICClassic Cinemas
VICNova Carlton
VICThornbury Picture House
ACTDendy Canberra
QLDMarloo Twin Cinema
WALuna Leederville
SAWallis Mitcham

YOUR REVIEWER:

Kernel Claire retired from the Salty Popcorn cob in 2014 with full honors, but was lured back to the shine of the silver screen and the Salt of the Popcorn a mere four years later. When not hand-modelling for Kernel Jason’s food-reviews, Claire can be found scootering through Sydney at a reasonable, defensive driving speed; or fussing far too much over her little black rescue cat Baxter.

Claire has worked in the Australian Cinema Industry for over 13yrs and loves it the most when she can report “sometimes I get paid to watch movies”. She’ll pretty much attend any event that includes a lanyard.