Cast: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson
Director: Bart Layton
Synopsis: Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.
The first thing I can say is that I’m glad that I watched this film at home. There were moments where I was so overcome with anxiety that I had to press pause and brief for a few seconds. Not that American Animals is difficult to watch, the second half of the film ups the ante so much that you feel the anxiety along with the characters.
American Animals is very honest in its’ portrayal of the real life characters and the incident. One is not pushed into feeling sympathy for the characters, their sides are given, but from beginning to end I could see that the title characters were privileged boys who were pushing the boundaries of what they were allowed to do.
The film is excellent in that it is partially a documentary, the scenes of the movie is interspersed with interviews with the real Spencer, Warren, Chas and Eric. And it is excellent as the original quartet serve almost as narrators, commenting on and guiding us through the movie. Bart Layton also does a great job of showing what an unreliable narrator they can be at times, by showing different versions of the same events from other people’s perspectives.
The cast plays their roles excellently but especially Evan Peters as Warren Lipka who puts on a show as the flamboyant and scheming one of the group. Blake Jenner shines in one scene where he is freaking out by a mistake that Spencer and Warren make in the car after coming from Christie’s.
As I mentioned above, the tone of American Animals (along with the score) moves from flippant and comedic in the beginning to a dark thriller as the film progresses. Just as the scheme moves in the minds of the boys, from a silly and fun idea to something that could get them killed. And you feel it. As much as my personal opinion was that they are idiots who should be in jail, I could not help but feel anxious as the film progressed but the chance of prison became more pronounced.
This film is interesting for audiences who enjoy heist movies and those who are interested in the crime as a whole, especially what would make four privileged and well off boys rob a rare books collection at a university?