The Movie Waffler Film Maudit 2.0 2021 Review - ANONYMOUS ANIMALS | The Movie Waffler

Film Maudit 2.0 2021 Review - ANONYMOUS ANIMALS

anonymous animals review
Humans become the livestock on a farm run by animals.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Baptiste Rouveure

Starring: Thierry Marcos, Aurélien Chilarsky, Pauline Guilpain, Emilien Lavaut

anonymous animals poster

Several movies have successfully explored the idea of animals rising up to battle their human oppressors, from the multiple variations of the Planet of the Apes franchise to Kornel Mundruczo's Hungarian arthouse shaggy dog story White God. In similar fashion comes Anonymous Animals, an oddity from first-time French filmmaker Baptiste Rouveure, who has previously received acclaim for a series of innovative shorts.

anonymous animals review

On a geographically unspecified patch of farmland, the natural order has been reversed. Humans are now the livestock and pets of a group of animals who walk upright and dress in human clothes (think of a malevolent cousin of the dog-headed protagonist of Spike Jonze's iconic promo for Daft Punk's 'Da Funk' and you'll get the picture).

The film follows two human protagonists, neither of whom ever utter a word (whether humans are unable to speak in this world is unclear). A young man is led around on a chain, fed disgusting raw meat in a bowl and ultimately forced to battle another man in a riff on dogfighting. Elsewhere a young woman is rounded up among a group of humans and placed in a cattle yard, attempting to make her mistake before the wax jacket and welly clad furry farmers make their rounds.

anonymous animals review

If the sole point of Anonymous Animals is to make us ponder the cruelty we inflict on our four-legged cousins, well I guess it's successful in that regard. But as a piece of narrative cinema it's sorely lacking in anything approaching emotional investment. The title might refer to the walking beasts or the subdued humans, and if we're to root for the latter we need to be thrown a juicier bone than the one Rouveure tosses in our direction here. We never get to know either of the human protagonists, so it's difficult to care about their fate, not to mention that their oppressors take the form of horses, dogs and deer, the sort of animals we naturally find cute and adorable rather than threatening.

Anonymous Animals runs for a decidedly short 64 minutes, but even at that brief length it struggles to justify its existence. Rouveure's concept - which is far from novel, let's face it - may have made for a striking music promo, where the need for a narrative hook and character development is excised, but there just isn't enough meat on its bones to work as a feature.

anonymous animals review

On the other hand, if Rouveure merely intends this as a showreel, it certainly demonstrates his ability to construct sequences that would no doubt be tense and suspenseful if we were more invested in the plight of the film's protagonists. I'm certainly curious to see what he might achieve if he's given a fully developed script to work with.

Anonymous Animals
screens as part of Film Maudit 2.0 2021 from January 12th - 24th. Click here for details.

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