Director: Marcal Fores
Starring: Oriol Pla, Augustus Prew, Dimitri Leonidas, Martin Freeman
Seventeen-year-old high-schooler Pol has stubbornly extended his childhood, aided in no small measure by his opinionated, drums-playing, English-speaking pet teddy bear, Deerhoof. But when he meets alluring new student Icari, the safety of Pol’s innocent imagination crumbles as he experiences his first pangs of love and sexual longing. But what will happen to Deerhoof in this new world and can Pol accept his new-found feelings?
Animals is a very interesting movie. It cannot be pigeon-holed into one genre. Throughout its running time it seems to be a drama, a coming of age tale, a psychological thriller, a disenfranchised youth yarn and a story of sexual longing. It is all these things at once and at times it is none. The film seems to be able to shake free any genre its plot may evoke in the viewers mind with a succession of complex and intriguing shifts in style. It is a credit to Marcal that this can be done. It isn’t until the movies very end that all these seemingly-loose-ends are tied together to provide a thought provoking finale.
The most interesting thing, on first impressions, is the relationship of Pol and the walking/talking stuffed bear Deerhoof. The bear has a almost robotic sounding English accent as well as being able to speak in English. Pol understands every word he says, as can Deerhoof understand the Spanish spoken by his human companion. Their relationship seems to be that of nostalgia and a reluctance to grow up. When Pol is deeply upset or in trouble the bear appears and, rather touchingly, comforts the hormonal teen with a hug. It is these moments that provide Animals with genuine warmth. Despite this the bear is sometimes mistreated by Pol as he occasionally builds up the confidence to feel capable of coping on his own. Deerhoof always finds a way back at Pol’s weakest points in the film.
The sexual undertone of the plot is interesting. Pol has a girlfriend but he doesn’t seem interested in her any further than getting rides from her in her car. He encounters the mysterious new boy of his school in the woods, it is here that Pol under goes a sexual revelation and takes yet another step away from needing Deerhoof. It is, however, tinged with violence that yet again makes sense once Animals has reached its ending.
A insightful look at a troubled boy coping with new found emotions that sometimes creates dread and a sense of uneasiness making Animals a brilliant ‘head scratcher’ that will force viewers to read between the lines. And ponder the true role of Deerhoof.
7 out of 10.
See it here: http://www.artsploitationfilms.com/animals/