Turning books into movies has been going on since, well, I don’t know specifically, but it’s a long time and it has always been a treacherous undertaking, particularly if that book is so well loved by so many.
Animals has been brought to the screen by director Sophie Hyde (“52 Tuesdays”, “Fucking Adelaide (TV)”) from a script by Emma Jane Unsworth herself. It’s long, I mean it’s just shy of two hours, but it feels a lot longer.
The movie, whilst punctuated by wonderful performances from our two protagonists, Laura, Holliday Grainger (“Cinderella”, “My Cousin Rachel”), and Tyler, Alia Shawkat (“Transparent (TV)”, “I Lost My Body“), is a drab and dreary affair that rumbles on and on, hammering home its messages which you see from the get-go, yet must wait for writer and director to get there.
The story is of love, marriage, drinking, drugs, sex and, above all, friendship. We’ve seen it before and, sorry to say, we’ve seen it better in things like Girls from Lena Dunham, hell even Sex And The City, both of which Animals draws parallels from.
Like Carrie in SATC, Laura is a writer, although in ten years she has managed to write a total of ten pages. She struggles to get in the groove, not helped in the slightest by her flatmate Tyler. Tyler is constantly ebullient, she loves life, more specifically she loves their life: the partying, the drinking, the everything but work and the general toil that most of us must go through.
The two live like they are still students, despite both being nearly 30, whilst those around Laura, like her sister Jean, Amy Molloy (“’71”, “The Fall (TV)”), are married with a new born baby, they are ‘grown up’, or what society considers grown up.
So, when Laura meets and falls in love with Jim, Fra Fee (“Monochrome”, “Troubles (Short)”), everything begins to change, from her own outlook on things to her friendship with Tyler and even the relationship itself.
It’s not clear how long the two are together before they are engaged to be married, much to Tyler’s horror, but not everything goes smoothly, naturally, and things unravel quicker than a wool sweater caught on a door handle.
Animals is a wicked look at a 20-something who, whilst loving her life of parties, fears she may be missing out on the “regular” thing’s others have. The story, the premise and I’m sure the book, is all good, but as a film it is far to obvious what is going to happen next, and by next, I mean throughout the film.
Brilliant performances and some funny moments are sadly not enough to save Animals from falling into the clichés of what is fast becoming its own movie genre: that of 20-somethings struggling with what society determines to be ‘normal life’.
Animals is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital on 6th January 2020 and you can win a copy of Animals on DVD by entering our competition here.