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November 21, 2013


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Marcal Fores - 2012
Artsploitation Films All Region DVD

There is a circularity to Animals. The film begins with a scene of a young woman jumping into the water, submerged for several minutes. It's not clear whether she has attempted suicide or simply has created the appearance of trying to kill herself, and the young woman, Clara, makes no attempt to explain herself. Animals might be understood in part as a look at the adolescent romance with death and suicide or at least how it is represented. How that romance is manifested is subject to change, but one might make a connection to pop culture of fifty years ago when there was a spate of songs involving a lover or lovers, a motorized vehicle, and a date with death.

For that matter, we might as well go back to The Sorrows of Young Werther. In the commentary, a discussion of the film by Fores with Artsploitation's Travis Crawford, Fores mentions how the audience reaction. Unsurprisingly, the most enthusiastic viewers are young and female. Admittedly, as I shuffle on to impending geezeerhood, I found myself disconnected from this film. Certainly the introductory images of swimming and drowning make for some convenient symbolism, as several of the main characters can be said to be drowning in their own self-absorption.

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The main character is a high school student named Pol, which rhymes with pall. His best friend is a small yellow teddy bear. Even though Pol is Spanish, the teddy bear, named Deerfoot, which comes alive for Pol, speaks English. Except for a scene of exuberant rock with Pol on guitar and Deerfoot on drums, any thought that this will be a romp along the lines of Ted are quickly dashed. Pol lives with his brother, a policeman, basically drifting through school and friendship with a girl, Laia, based more out of convenience than any sense of attraction. Pol may, or may not, be gay, but he briefly gets involved with the new kid, Ikari, who has more self-inflicted knife scars than an Eagle scout has merit badges.

The final scene consists of juxtapositions of real and imagined horror taking place during a school celebration of Halloween. Amidst the students in costume is a bear with a gun who shoots a fellow student, causing panic among the students. Pol cuts himself deeply, walking out of the school bleeding. Clara, who may or may not have committed suicide, mysteriously reappears. I think I have a fair idea of what is attempted to be said here, but it doesn't quite work for me.

Other critics have praised Animals. I'm not saying they're wrong. Maybe it is various factors that have me resistant to this film following two viewings. I'm trying to be fair, but Animals didn't talk to me.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 21, 2013 07:35 AM