Review: American Animals

From the opening upside down cinematography, you sense American Animals is going to be something wildly unique. Following the contradicting accounts of the four real life members of one the strangest heists to ever occur, this crime drama weaves in and out of being a semi documentary and deliver one of the best edge of your seat rides to grace cinema screens all year.

…we get a rough sense of what happened back in 2003, but never a full scope

Weaving in and out of the real life accounts of the participants, the narrative structure is reminiscent of this year’s I, Tonya, but works a lot better here as you witness the real effects discussing the events have on the members. The contradicting reports of how certain moments went down are also handled superbly. Seamless editing changes minor details before your very eyes, sometimes changing the entire complexity of the story as a whole. By giving us a different number of accounts, we get a rough sense of what happened back in 2003, but never a full scope, with a lot left up in the air for us to decide who to believe.

We see how a fantasy can take over a certain individual with ease, and (Evan) Peters manages to sell this idea…

While there are four members of the daring robbery, American Animals centres mainly on Warren (Evan Peters) and Spencer (Barry Keoghan). Following his note perfect performance in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Keoghan once again proves he can handle any role thrown at him and really shines as the morally conflicted Spencer. The film however belongs to Evan Peters, who captures the unhinged nature Warren possesses effortlessly. We see how a fantasy can take over a certain individual with ease, and Peters manages to sell this idea and, more importantly, keeps the films wild premise grounded and realistic.

American Animals grabs your attention from the offset and refuses to let you look away.

The entire film riffs on the conventions of the heist genre in its own modern way. They prepare for the operation by watching movies and make pop culture references throughout. As for the robbery itself, the heightened tension it delivers is of the highest quality and is pieced together pretty perfectly. The heist movie structure is reinvented throughout thanks to Bart Layton’s brilliant direction and this is most evident during the actual event. One of the best sequences you’ll see all year.

American Animals grabs your attention from the offset and refuses to let you look away. It could’ve been played for laughs or not taken the consequences of the entire situation seriously. But by crafting something entirely unique and really powerful, it ends up being not only the best heist film of the year, but a truly terrific cinematic experience.

9/10

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