American Animals (2018)

Director: Bart Layton.
Starring:Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan,Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Udo Kier, Ann Dowd .USA. 2h 0m

It’s not often that a director gets to tackle a real life event with all original faces still alive and so open and willing to partake in a project, especially when it involves such a dark chapter of their lives. But without exploiting the unwavering openness and heavy themes, Bart Layton delivers a sturdy and unusually compelling true crime thriller.

The perfect heist is a work of fiction.

Four intrepid friends try to escape their boring existence in Kentucky after visiting a prestigious university and dreaming up the heist of the century. Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen devise a plan to steal the rarest and most valuable books from the school library. As the plans unfold the men begin to question whether their attempts are misguided or simply an attempt to inject excitement into their otherwise mild mannered lives.

American Animals is a very different movie, it has an uncanny method to it’s story telling, blending real life interviews and dramatizations seamlessly, it’s very weird and at times truly clever, more so than the heist it attempts to unveil.

This is not based on a true story. This happened.

With a strong flavor of humble pie the movie spends as much time dissecting the bad decisions and falling out from the biggest “i forgot to return my library book” story of all time. While claiming fully that it’s a true story I feel it has a few Fargo Truths hidden in the margins, if for artistic reasons or otherwise, the additions are incredibly fresh to an already intriguing flick, one that follows what the news has already told us and thrown in a few alternative timelines that the boys have disclosed since, how much truth is in any of it is up to the audience, but hopefully it’s more believable that the fake beards.

Do you ever wonder, you ended up being born. You, here, and not someone else? Do you ever feel like you’re waiting for something to happen, but you don’t know what it is? But, it’s that thing that could, um, make your life special. -Spencer

In all fairness, Layton couldn’t really go wrong, with young and old talent from Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters and Udo Kier, and keen cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkeland it’s a dream just to watch the film roll out in its fluid motion. The film remains grounded with strength in all departments while the characters are losing their minds it’s all quite tense and funny sitting comfortably in our seats while not having a coming of life crisis like these boys, although I do get a hint that maybe there’s a suggestion that providing no one gets hurt, we should maybe live a little and try something daring in your youth, just make sure you don’t get a chronic jail sentence!


Rating: 7/10

Related: Black 47 (2018), The Killing of the Sacred Deer (2017),
Lists: Real Crimes Spotlight:Udo Kier, Barry Keoghan Trailer


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