Film – American Animals

Film – American Animals

The story of four American university kids planning a heist just because of boredom seems far-fetched. Until you learn the first people on the big screen in front of you are the actual four people rather than actors. So straight away we are into the docufilm genre whereby the uni kids tell us how the remember it but the actors tell us – maybe – how it actually happened.

What they plan to steal are some of America’s most valuable books, which happened to be housed in the college library under the care of just one,  gentle librarian.

Clearly having watched too many films, the two main culprits are Spencer, who wants to be an artist but doesn’t have any angst in his life, who becomes captivated by the books and Warren seems to be pretty much hell-bent on causing trouble. They enlist a couple of others, Eric, an accountant and fitness fanatic Chas. Cue the drawing of plans, obtaining disguises and practising the getaway. In all of this, Warren is tasked with meeting a potential buyer – but did he even have one?

We see the slick scenes of the heist working out to the second, but of course, that’s not how it plays out in their crazy real life. Early on I have no empathy for any of these privileged young men, with perhaps the exception of the accountant, Eric, who absolutely did not want to have any part in hurting anyone but got drawn into it. This means I didn’t have the tension this film was designed to give me, but I did feel sadness; partly for the four, but mainly for the middle-aged librarian Betty who got caught up in their chaos.

It’s well-made and the story is satisfactorily told but the only person I had empathy for is the librarian, and perhaps all the parents who describe their shock in finding out about their sons.


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