The Movie Waffler Sundance London 2019 Review - ANIMALS | The Movie Waffler

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Sundance London 2019 Review - ANIMALS

animals 2019 film review
A pair of young women begin to question their hedonistic lifestyle.

Review by Musanna Ahmed

Directed by: Sophia Hyde

Starring: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat, Fra Fee, Dermot Murphy, Amy Molloy

animals poster

I can't remember the last time I saw a movie that featured as many glasses of wine as Animals does.

Wine is just one of the few vices that comprises the long best friendship of Laura and Tyler, a dynamic duo pre-known to readers of Emma Jane Hunsworth’s acclaimed novel of the same. Hunsworth returns to their lives by adapting her book for director Sophie Hyde’s sophomore feature.


animals 2019 film review

These lives are filled with sex and drugs, the unlimited respite in these indulgences appealing to the pair of almost-30-year-olds approaching a point in their lives where they have to start carefully considering the context in which they engage in such pastimes.

Particularly because they aren’t the wisest ideas anymore: Tyler makes Martinis at the home of Laura’s sister Jean, at the time they’re meeting Jean’s newborn baby for the first time, and Laura has sex with cocaine-loving poet Marty while remaining engaged to Jim, who’s been abstaining from alcohol since about the time he put a ring on her.


animals 2019 film review

Sensing the escapist pleasures of vino, Marty tells Laura one night, "You drink like you're aware of your own mortality." That she does, letting that self-awareness of her mortality and her emotions trump all logic and morality during these conundrums.

This Dublin-set dramedy feels like Girls but with less of the exasperating qualities found in Lena Dunham’s characters, thus opening up a more accessible avenue for empathy for its central personalities. It’s very smartly written, but the main power source of Animals is the duo composed of Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat, who play Laura and Tyler, respectively.

Sharing an amazing chemistry, these actresses have a convincing lifelong bond and the relatability of their millenial friendship is peak. Shawkat is one of those performers whose smile can be interpreted as either one of happiness or devilish cheek, perfectly suiting her for the role of the sharp-tongued Tyler, who mostly understands the limit to loving life. Mostly.


animals 2019 film review

It's impressive how much of Animals feels realistic considering the heightened dialogue is full of the cleverness à la Sorkin or Tarantino - people aren't really so quick-witted in real life, but it’s enjoyable listening to characters who speak in such a way.

My favourite exchange is when Tyler asks Laura to listen to the silence of the neighbourhood, explaining "It’s the non-sound of the suburb. They sell it to you as peace but it’s death." These weighty words speak to the crossroads faced when their lifestyle comes under scrutiny within the examination of traditional roles for women. Animals is rather good at showing the complexities of what it’s really like to be a woman in your mid-twenties today. It’s genuine and rebellious, vitalised by fine performances and high-quality writing by the talented women behind and in front of the camera.

Animals is in UK/ROI cinemas August 2nd.


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