Llanelli Star - - Film Reviews -


THE reper­cus­sions of crime are brought sharply into fo­cus in writer-di­rec­tor Bart Lay­ton’s lean, propul­sive thriller. Based on the true story of four young men who or­ches­trated a dar­ing heist in De­cem­ber 2004 at Tran­syl­va­nia Univer­sity in Ken­tucky, Amer­i­can An­i­mals el­e­gantly melds doc­u­men­tary and drama­ti­sa­tion.

Art stu­dent Spencer Rein­hard (Barry Keoghan) takes a tour of the spe­cial col­lec­tions sec­tion of his univer­sity’s li­brary led by cus­to­dian Betty Jean Gooch (Ann Dowd), which houses a rare edi­tion of John James Audubon’s beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated The Birds Of Amer­ica. Spencer con­ceives a plan to steal sev­eral manuscript­s with ath­let­ics schol­ar­ship stu­dent War­ren Lipka (Evan Pe­ters).

“We’re talk­ing about 12 mil­lion in rare books and only one old lady guard­ing it,” sum­marise the young men.

As the scheme takes shape Spencer and War­ren re­alise they need ad­di­tional man­power. They in­volve Erik Bor­suk (Jared Abra­ham­son) and Chas Allen (Blake Jen­ner) – as a look­out in­side the li­brary and a get­away driver.

The plan is sim­ple: to im­mo­bilise Gooch and steal the books, then exit through a back en­trance, un­seen by other staff. Un­for­tu­nately, the stu­dents’ prepa­ra­tions fal­ter and fra­ter­nal bonds buckle un­der the strain of a high­pro­file po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Amer­i­can An­i­mals sinks its claws into our un­di­vided at­ten­tion, gal­vanised by the leads’ strong per­for­mances.

Evan Pe­ters as War­ren Lipka

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