American Animals – Review
by Lucia Roman Canivell
Bart Layton, I wish you had come to my life earlier. With quite a simple plot, the film seems to be another screen adaptation of a real-life crime. However, setting this as his starting point, director Bart Layton gets the opportunity to astonish us with his innovative editing techniques.
The film is based on the true story of four young men who confuse reality with fiction, a theme which is played upon throughout the film. Believing themselves to be the protagonists of a heist film, they start planning the robbery of a book written by Darwin and now kept in the library of the University of Transylvania. The wild narrative mixes money, films and the search of identity. Even though the production is based on a real story, its craziness fits perfectly with Layton’s style and brings us a masterpiece in which documentary, action and crime intermingle. Through the graceful evolution of the conversation scenes, the actors interact with the real people they are portraying; the audience will find it hard to figure out who is real and who is fictional in the end. The director creates a playful space between real life and imagination in which everyone has a designated role. He plays with subjectivity in a beautiful way, turning the film into a critical piece of work where perspective and documental techniques are put on trial. Peters and Keoghan’s terrific performances are an additional benefit, together with the soundtrack, which shapes perfectly the overall style of the film.
A critical film that will catch your attention from the first second. In times of remakes, we need artists like Layton that challenge the rules and dare to innovate.