American Animals, 7.91/10, illustrates the meticulous planning of four ambitious adolescents trying to execute a heist. They intend to steal a collection of world renowned art titled “The Birds of America” by James Audubon. The infamous book resides in the library at the University of Kentucky (worth millions of dollars) and the boys intend to sell it on to art dealers at a high price tag in order to make their fortunes. The film intertwines the fast-paced action with real life footage of the four men involved in the real events. They confess their participation in the heist and express their feelings on reflection. These feature alongside interviews of family members of the teens expressing their disbelief and their own personal accounts of the heist.
The trailer for American Animals certainly lead me down the wrong garden path. As from the trailer it would appear that the film is solely centred around the heist in action. However, the documentary style that the director Bart Layton has decided to used perfectly narrates the feature and constantly sets the tone. The film cleverly cuts back and forth, even duplicating shots when the character’s memories of the events differ in their present day recollection.
I feel the music is a noteworthy topic to discuss for American Animals. The song selection accompanies the pace of the film perfectly. Featuring musical greats such as The Doors and Elvis, the audience immediately recognises these tracks and connects with how they are meant to be feeling.
Warren (played by Evan Peters) and Spencer (played by Barry Keoghan) perfectly capture the naivety of planning a robbery. Comically making references to other heist films throughout shows the innocence in their foolish attempt. By no means am I justifying their actions but tell me you haven’t seen a movie about a robbery gone wrong and haven’t claimed you could have pulled it off. Well, these two boys gave it a fair go. They saw an ‘easy’ opportunity and very quickly became caught up in their fantasy. Feeling fed up and forced to do what has become expected of them, they take revolting against the status quo to a new level. Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan both show us their acting capabilities and prove they are certainly two to look out for.
I was lucky enough to see this in as an early preview as part of Odeon’s Screen Unseen and can safely say I wasn’t disappointed. I really hope that this film gets the opportunity it deserves to be seen and is screened widely rather than at a selection of the bigger cinemas. If you have a chance to see this film, I urge you to take the plunge.
Entertainment (of its genre): 7.5/10
Total Overall Rating: 7.91/10