Movie Review – True Story about U.S. University Art Heist is showing in South African cinemas

AMERICAN ANIMALS
is a true story about two varsity friends, Warren Lipka (played by Evan Peters) and Spencer Reinhard (Barry Koeghan) who are desperate to break out of their boring lives. An innocent, or possibly not, comment made by Spencer after a visit to a rare book exhibit hosted in the university library (Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2004) the two start planning what is called the most audacious daytime art heist in US history. They soon realise this is not a two person job and enlist two more, Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson) and Chas Allen (Blake Jenner). Together they plot to steal valuable art books valued at $10-million – a scheme that goes belly up and ends in jail time.

The cast:
Evan Peters, who is known as the character Quicksilver in die X-Men movie franchise, stars as the ringleader, Warren Lipka. Barry Koeghan (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) plays an art student, Spencer Reinhard. Jared Abrahamson (Travellers), and Blake Jenner (The Edge of Seventeen) play the roles of Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen.

Review:
I imagine if you are a filmmaker this movie would appeal to you and in spite of what is promised, it did not keep me riveted or on the edge of my seat. The thing that did keep me engaged was the cutting back to the real characters who are now out of jail and adding flavour to the story with the memories they have from their perspectives – all being different (afterwards I read that this is a technique they used to blur the lines between fantasy and reality). I did not find the story compelling, and neither did the only couple in the cinema with me – they left a quarter of the way through.

I think the story could have been so much more, but it dragged from the very start, 43 minutes in I checked my watch to see whether the action would start, and it did five or so minutes later. It still dragged. The pace picked up just before they were arrested, and then it was over.

It has taken me two days to sit down and do the review because I didn’t want to be unfair to the movie. I allowed for the passing of time to dilute my disappointment, holding the possibility that it could have been the cold, my mood or whatever, to see whether I would go and see it again. I wouldn’t.

The storyline was flat and too documentary-like – perhaps the idea is to get an award in Cannes (it did premiere at the Sundance Film Festival), I don’t know. The characters were either dumb-ass or boring, and I always felt like there was an element of “interesting” missing in each of the characters. It was all two dimensional and the debate held between them on whether or not to pull the heist off, the finding of a buyer and the way this happened, even I a non-criminal knew they were about to get nailed. The whole movie was half-hearted like gang’s general acceptance of the idea, and it showed.

I also read that the film would leave me with mixed emotions about whether the punishment (7 years in federal prison) suited the crime and if the meaningful life experience was worth the price they paid. I will leave that up to you to decide if you want to watch the movie (the list of cinemas it is showing it is below). I don’t know whether I would call this a commercial film. My opinion is that this crime movie was more like a documentary and if you are interested in those then you will enjoy this one.

The movie is locally distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd and is showing in the following cinemas:

Ster-Kinekor Tygervalley
Ster-Kinekor Blue Route
Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau V&A Waterfront
Nu Metro V&A Waterfront
Ster-Kinekor Garden Route
Labia Theatre, Orange Street
Ster-Kinekor Gateway
Ster-Kinekor Cedar Square
Ster-Kinekor Cradlestone
Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau Brooklyn
Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau Rosebank
Ster-Kinekor Sandton
Ster-Kinekor Bedford Square
Nu Metro Woodlands Boulevard
Movies@Monte

SOCIAL MEDIA
For more information on AMERICAN ANIMALS, including official trailers, please visit the Facebook Page or follow on Twitter at @SterEnt, using #AmericanAnimalsSA.

INTERNATIONAL LINKS
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmerAnimals/
Instagram: @ameranimals
Twitter: @AmerAnimals
Web: www.americananimals.film
Hashtag: #AmericanAnimals

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