Starring: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat
In the afterglow of Lady Bird and Booksmart comes a portrait of female friendship that has been brewing for some time, and maturing beyond the teenage anxieties recent years have offered moviegoers. Sophie Hyde's Animals takes Emma Jane Unsworth's acclaimed novel and brings it to life with freewheeling hedonism.
The story dives into all the imperfect, naked details of Laura and Tyler – two thirtysome best friends whose story recounts every last night out together. They drink, smoke, take drugs and have sex, often at the same time, and this makes up the menu of their existence. These vices aren't framed as fatal flaws, instead simply as the accessories embellishing their identities.
Laura is a writer and Tyler hops from one temporary gig to the next, but their jobs matter little. The focus is on every outburst of emotion, from elation to severe pain, that comes from the unapologetic fun they hungrily keep hunting for.
The narrative's mission is less to get from A to B, instead to relish the snapshots of sisterhood, at once idyllic and hellish, that audiences will undoubtedly recognise.
Things take a turn when Laura meets a man and falls in love, thus jeopardising the raucous balance the two women have built their communal life on. Grainger skilfully navigates Laura's conflicted ambition, letting herself soften with a new lover while still trying to look out for her best friend.
Shawkat steals the show as Tyler, performing every next sketch with wit and always fresh energy. The woman-gone-wild trope has been deployed since time immemorial, but Animals hits a sweet spot in sustaining a boisterous level of debauchery throughout, instead of limiting itself to sanitise the details.
While Grainger and Shawkat carry the film with astonishing commitment, at times it does feel like asking where they are going. Will the next night out be different to this one? What happens when they wake up without each other?
It's always a relief when Laura and Tyler find each other's arms again, but throughout these neverending nights of dancing it can sometimes feel like it wouldn't matter if the rest of us went home early.
Reviewed at the 2019 Sundance London Film Festival. Animals will be released in the UK on 2 August 2019.
|What||Animals film review|
02 Aug 19 – 02 Aug 20, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|