New American Cinema | 2018 | 116 minutes
Stranger Says: In American Animals, the traditional heist film genre is refreshingly twisted by taking a true-life story and combining it with fiction. Interviews of the men involved in the real crime provide a counterpoint with the dramatization of four hapless middle-class college boys who awkwardly plan to steal rare million-dollar books from the Kentucky University library. Whether wholly accurate or not, this film has been compared to Point Break and Fight Club. Rising actors Barry Keoghan (The Killing of A Sacred Deer), Evan Peters (X-Men), and Blake Jenner (The Edge of Seventeen) are shown planning their crime by watching films about robberies and calling each other Mr. Black, Mr. Pink, etc. Of course, what can go wrong does go wrong, and the lead-up to the robbery along with the pseudo getaway is infused with adrenaline, excitement, panic, and occasional bouts of absurdly funny shenanigans. It is hard to believe these characters are so unimaginably real. (CARL SPENCE)
SIFF Says:While watching such caper films as OCEAN’S ELEVEN or THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, have you ever thought to yourself: could I ever pull off a heist? The crime movie-loving protagonists in Bart Layton’s (THE IMPOSTER, 2012) AMERICAN ANIMALS think so, and fashion a heist of their very own. Based on a (mostly) true story, Layton’s film revolves around best friends Spencer (Barry Keoghan, DUNKIRK) and Warren (Evan Peters, “American Horror Story”), two intelligent but aimless young Kentucky college students. With the help of their fellow Transylvania University peers Chas (Blake Jenner, EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!) and Eric (Jared Abrahamson, HELLO DESTROYER), they decide to rob the Special Collections Library at their school simply because they can. What begins as an outlandish exercise of their imaginations and a testament to their organization skills, eventually turns into the real thing, and the group of young men realize they may be in over their heads. Layton's feature debut is a stylish and cleverly self-reflexive ode to American crime cinema. In exploring its characters arrogance and restlessness, emphasized by smart dialogue and a unique narrative structure, AMERICAN ANIMALS emerges as an engrossing reflection on young male privilege.
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