AMERICAN ANIMALS (15)
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