Enjoy heist movies? Maybe ones that touch on wanting life to be more? Movies based on true stories? American Animals may just be the movie for you.
Touching on the concept unreliable narrators and the age-old heist genre, Bart Layton’s American Animals tells the somewhat true story of four young men who robbed the rare-book room at the University of Transylvania library in 2004. Similar to I, Tonya in the way the films weaves between interviews and recreations, you get to actually see the perpetrators of the crime in all their fully formed adult-ness. Watch as they, and their parents, recount the events leading up to the robbery. In real interviews they discuss everything from the conversations they had to the old films they saw in prep for the robbery.
Visually, this film is captivating. At the very beginning you get a peek into the first edition of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America”, the images sticking around in the same way they probably did in the lead’s, Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan), mind. You then meet the real life people and get glimpses at the characters who’ll appear throughout. As the film progresses, it dances over into the lines of magical realism and attempts to strike balance between the idealism of young adults and the dreariness of small American towns. American Animals goes between the two, never really finding a nice balance between them and leaving you a little unattached and confused with a lack of intention.
All the actors, real characters or not, are excellent. Evan Peters gives a volatile and impulsive performance as Warren Lipka, the arguable mastermind behind it all. Barry Keoghan as Spencer Reinhard is the key to it all as an art student who thinks he needs to endure tragedy to make art. Their accomplices come in the forms of Blake Jenner (that dude from Glee) as Chas Allen II, a rich entrepreneur who’s included for his money and car, and Jared Abrahamson as Eric Borsuk, an accounting student striving for the FBI. The real men are interviewed beautifully, weaved throughout the film and making you wonder what actually did and didn’t happened and given an insight into a story that only comes with hindsight.
A story previously untold, if you and your mates are looking for a film to escape the upcoming summer warmth, American Animals may just be the one.
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5