Animals review – tragicomic ode to growing up disgracefully | Comedy films

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Writer Emma Jane Unsworth adapts her 2014 novel, moving the action from Manchester to Dublin. Party animal Laura (Holliday Grainger) has spent the past decade trying to become a writer (she’s written 10 pages in 10 years). She lives in decadent squalor with best friend, Tyler (Alia Shawkat, coasting on the strength of her natural charisma), and like their well-rehearsed routine of anarchic nights out and bleary comedowns, the film’s structure is untidily elliptical.

When Laura falls in love with classical pianist Jim (Fra Fee), a man with “the shoes of an undertaker and the smile of a despot” according to Tyler, a different life is presented to her. Sooner or later, the party has to end, insists Laura’s sensible sister Jean (Amy Molloy).

The film is preoccupied with the theme of growing up, fizzing with the teenage energy of a coming-of-age movie despite its characters edging into their 30s. Laura recognises and is vulnerable to the seductiveness of white wine, MDMA and pretentious poets with curly hair. She asks questions about the value of marriage and settling down (“My feminism is about blazing a way through old traditions,” she barks, defending her engagement to Jim). She’s also fearful of commitment, in relationships and writing, trapped by her propensity for self-sabotage (Laura’s book begins with a girl who tries to free a spider from its own web).

“Tragedy plus time equals comedy,” insists Tyler, but the film is more ambivalent. A scene in which Laura spills wine on a baby is darkly funny, but Grainger’s carefully modulated performance skews more towards the tragic, especially as she stares into the mirror at a party, crestfallen at the realisation she’s no longer having fun.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Animals review – tragicomic ode to growing up disgracefully | Comedy films

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