How long can you party for? When is it time to stop the music and take greater care and responsibility for the rest of your life?
Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) have been flatmates and besties for 10 years. They maraud around the streets of Dublin, rejecting the expectations that bombard modern women and acting purely on desire. Laura finds a guy – rising star pianist Jim (Fra Fee) – and she’s prepared to settle down with him. But Tyler isn’t supportive and does everything she can to circumvent the union and ensure the best friends remain as tight as ever.
Based on a 2014 novel by Emma Jane Unsworth, Sophie Hyde directs Unsworth’s screenplay. A slow start gives way to an intriguing game of cat-and-mouse where the outcome is never certain.
The two leads do an excellent job fleshing out and inhabiting their characters. One is bold and brassy … and beneath the bravado, fearful and lonely. The other has a severe case of writers’ block, is easily distracted and led astray. The constant is confusion and chaos. Around them are a colourful array of secondary characters – Laura’s younger married sister Jean (Amy Malloy) and their parents, Laura’s boyfriend Jim and a new found poet scholar Marty (Dermot Murphy) who, too, likes to live on the wild side.
Animals takes a look at hedonism from a female perspective and how a relationship between two gal pals can be romantic, complex, tragic and strange. The representation on film is fierce and fiery. I found the amount of alcohol consumption staggering, let alone the drugs. These influences hardly gave the girls the highs they were looking for.
The longer the movie went, the more I appreciated it; but Animals won’t be to everyone’s tastes because it is an anti-establishment type of movie. It’s a meandering journey into the fun and follies of two women trying to find their way in the world.
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.