Recently played at Cinepocalypse 2017!
ANIMALS (TIERE, 2017)
Directed by Greg Zglinski
Written by Greg Zglinski & Jörg Kalt
Starring Birgit Minichmayr, Philipp Hochmair, Mona Petri, Mehdi Nebbou, Michael Ostrowski, Philip Lenkowsky
ANIMALS, known in its native German language as TIERE, is an odd film about the way we perceive both relationships and reality and how different those perceptions can be from one another. While that doesn’t really sound very much like a genre film, some odd little details steers this film into the genre of film I call “theatre of the weird” and ends up being quite haunting in the end. Those looking for a film where things don’t necessarily add up, though it doesn’t take away from the overall surreal experience, will be interested in giving ANIMALS a chance.
A couple (Anna played by Birgit Minichmayr and Nick played by Philipp Hochmair) rents out their apartment to a new tenant Misha (Mona Petri) while they are on holiday in France. We find out in the opening moments that Nick is having an affair with Andrea, the tenant upstairs who seems to leap from her balcony to her death early in the film because she doesn’t agree with Nick’s holiday plans. On their way to the vacation house, Nick and Anna hit a sheep in the road, causing their car to crash. Relatively unscathed, the couple at first seem to be ok, but as the film goes on, it’s obvious not everything is as it seems. Meanwhile back at the apartment, Misha is being stalked by the lover of Andrea who convinced Misha is Andrea no matter how much Misha tries to convince him she isn’t.
Confused? Good. I think that’s what the makers of this film want you to feel. Relationships are complex connections people have with one another and all of them are unique. Trying to understand why one person loves another is pointless. It just happens like a fateful car accident with a sheep. ANIMALS shows that in the varying ways the players interact with one another. At the center of this convolution of who’s screwing who, who’s loving who, and who’s doesn’t give a shit is Anna and Nick who are trying to figure out, after being in a long relationship, whether they really love each other. The longer Nick and Anna stay at the cabin—away from the distraction of their real lives, the further they grow apart. This is represented in Nick and Anna seeing completely different things than one another and hearing completely different conversations when they talk with each other. While this isn’t the first time this concept has been explored in film, it certainly is done in a unique and intimate way with ANIMALS.
The film is acted rather exceptionally by the entire cast. One fault though, is that all of the males in the film (all of them unknown to me) look rather similar, leading to a moment or two of me asking, “Who’s that now?” especially when the scenery changes. It doesn’t help that some actors play more than one character as well.
ANIMALS is a relationship drama wrapped in a surreal package. There is a twist that I’m sure most will be able to guess as it’s a well used twist in films where an accident occurs in the opening moments. But despite that predictability, there’s an understanding of the unique way we interact that really is tapped into here in a special way. While some may feel this film ends rather obteusely, I think if you’re in a relationship or have ever been in one, you’re going to be made privy to the ugliness and horror of finding out the person you thought you knew the most is actually and horrifyingly a complete stranger. To me, that’s one of the scariest things of all and ANIMALS depicts that horror quite eloquently.