A movie review of “Animals”: Though well-acted, this gritty drama about a pair of junkies barely surviving on their wits is a monotonous din of misery. Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.
The trajectory of “Animals” is obvious in the opening minutes of this numbing if well-acted junkie drama.
One can tell that the fun part about a life of cleverly executed petty thievery and ingenious scams — all to raise money for scoring heroin — is going to be crammed into the film’s setup.
That’s what happens: As the title suggests, the story’s two antiheroes, lovers and fellow addicts Jude (David Dastmalchian, who also wrote “Animals”) and Bobbie (Kim Shaw), are beautiful predators with a daily survival routine of hunting and gathering. Bobbie distracts a record-store owner while Jude loads up on stolen CDs. They crash a wedding to run off with gifts they can sell.
Movie Review ★½
‘Animals,’ with David Dastmalchian, Kim Shaw, John Heard. Directed by Collin Schiffli, from a screenplay by Dastmalchian. 92 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
Their most dangerous game involves conning men, who think they’re hiring a prostitute, into giving Bobbie money. She vanishes before they lay a finger on her.
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The fitfully appealing brazenness of it all can only mean one thing: Jude and Bobbie are going to pay big time for their sins in the film’s relentlessly bleak second half.
That’s exactly what occurs, and for the most part nothing is revealed except these two kids, seen in flashback, were once a nice, healthy couple. Now they’re racing to the bottom of degradation, though aware of their lost humanity.
The problem with this, as with other addiction movies that lack humor (“Trainspotting”) or style (“Drugstore Cowboy”), is that the deepening misery of hooked characters is monotonous to watch. Nuance is impossible.
Hints of salvation for Jude and Bobbie, late in the proceedings, are a welcome relief. Director Collin Schiffli, who draws every ounce of grief and pain from his principal actors, handles a contrasting grace note involving actor John Heard very nicely. But the rest of “Animals” is cinematic din.