Still of Kim Shaw and David Dastmalchian in Animals

SXSW Film Festival: Animals



SXSW Film Festival

Director: Collin Schiffli

Sometimes a film or a work of art or a piece of music tries to tell you something, in a whisper, barely audible so you have to lean in real close, and really listen. Other times it shouts what it wants to tell you from three feet away so that nobody can misunderstand or mishear it. I prefer the former. No need to shout, I’m a good listener, I can understand what you’re saying without hearing a word. Pandering to your audience is a good way to win awards, sure, but what I really want when I watch a movie is something that challenges the way I think and exist.

Animals, a film premiering at SXSW this year, is about two wandering “Drugstore Cowboy” types trying to score at any cost, but at its core, Animals is a romantic drama and the drugs just serve to move the plot forward. It’s heavy-handed with the use of metaphor, like when Jude (David Dastmalchian) is comforting Bobbie (Kim Shaw) at the clinic and the next shot focuses on a TV with two tigers cleaning each other. It’s too obvious.

I prefer the real drugstore cowboy, Kevin Dillon. Gus Van Sant wasn’t afraid to make unlikable characters. That’s the problem with Animals. It doesn’t commit to the characters. Bobbie and Jude aren’t vagabonds or poets, they’re just pretending to be. Roberto Bolano, who knew how to write poets and vagabonds, said in a posthumous novel, “In some lost fold of the past, we wanted to be lions and we’re no more than castrated cats.” The same could be said of these two.

SXSW Screenings:

Thursday, March 13 – 7:00PM – 8:26PM @Stateside Theater