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Part true crime documentary, part breezy heist film, American Animals defies expectations at every turn. The premise is deceptively simple: four young men decide to shake up their existence by stealing millions of dollars worth of rare books from their college library. It’s the kind of bold low stakes/high reward plan they’ve seen in countless glossy and fun flicks. Only this crime really did happen… and it didn’t go down the way it does in the movies. Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, and Jared Abrahamson star as the young men in question, though director Bart Layton has mixed in interview footage with their real-life counterparts and other figures from the case. The result is a meditation on memory, consequences, friendship, and those lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
- Spencer Reinhard
- Warren Lipka
- Eric Borsuk
- Chas Allen
- Betty Jean Gooch
- Evan Peters
- Blake Jenner
- Barry Keoghan
- Jared Abrahamson
- Eddie King
Did You Know?
- American Animals was filmed on locations in and around Charlotte, N.C.
- In the store where Warren is shopping in the frozen food section, there is a North Carolina state flag visible although it is set in Kentucky.
- Eric Borsuk: How can I tell you if I'm in or I'm out without telling me the first thing about what I might be in or out of.
Atom User Reviews
I like the fact this was a true story. I just felt the movie dragged on. I would have liked it better at 1:30.
It took awhile for the pace to pick up, but once it did, I was hooked. A convenient but stark contrast to usual "heist movies" which have become very "paint by numbers."
It’s a film that tosses questions at the viewer with no interest in answering them, one that can’t decide if it feels for its subjects or just wants to mock their incompetence.
Both as a writer and director, Layton delivers the dramatic goods here with the skill of a pro at the top of his game while adding the rueful perspective of time's reassessment of youthful indiscretions; this has to rate among the most accomplished and fully realized big-screen debuts of recent times.
American Animals requires many cuts and perspectives which are second-nature to an accomplished documentarian, yet the drama here also seems effortless and seamlessly integrated.