Amer­i­can An­i­mals

Directed by Bart Lay­ton

Metro Magazine NZ - - Film -

It sounds like a gim­mick: four young id­iots at­tempt a poorly planned heist be­cause they’ve seen too many movies about od­dball he­roes pulling off rob­beries against the odds, and years later a movie gets made about them in which they play them­selves, rue­fully watch­ing charis­matic young ac­tors re-en­act their ac­tions. A self-de­con­struct­ing true-crime doc­u­men­tary which sets out to put quo­ta­tion marks around the word “true”? Yes: Bart Lay­ton, maker of the bril­liant and dis­turb­ing doc­u­men­tary The Im­poster, has re­turned with an­other film which weaponises our will­ing­ness to be en­ter­tained by mav­er­ick an­ti­heroes.

In 2003, a bored univer­sity stu­dent in Lex­ing­ton, Ken­tucky, dis­cov­ers that his cam­pus li­brary holds copies of some ex­tremely rare and valu­able books: valu­able enough that on the black mar­ket they could fetch mil­lions of dol­lars. He re­cruits some friends, they make a plan. We know from the out­set that it won’t end well, but the film crack­les with so much en­ergy and in­ge­nious tech­nique that it’s easy to get swept up in the fun of it all. In other words, Lay­ton gives us the ex­pe­ri­ence of emo­tional com­plic­ity in the ac­tions of en­ti­tled young fools who are about to dis­cover the dif­fer- ence be­tween film and real life the hard way.

You could ar­gue the in­sights on of­fer here are not pro­found ones. But the film is the ideal ver­sion of it­self: smart, fast, and hard-hit­ting.

ABOVE— Amer­i­can An­i­mals: smart, fast and hard-hit­ting.

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