Reluctant adulthood is a current favourite on big and small screenings, and those missing Fleabag or Broad City will find welcome company in this adaptation of Emma Jane Unsworth’s 2014 novel. Animals follows two housemates and soulmates as they approach thirty and continue to run as far and fast as they can from responsibilities and responsible consumption of alcohol. When one meets the man that she may want to spend the rest of her life with, their previously-unshakable bond is thrown into disarray as they question their relationships and separate lives.
The drama is wholly dependent on its leads, who immediately win hearts. Holliday Grainger shines as Laura, conveying pure drive that is not always directed in the healthiest ways. Alia Shawkat’s Tyler swaggers in a cloud of faux fur, sequins, and stolen substances that allow her both an outlet for her most outrageous exploits and a mask for the uncertainty beneath. Together, they are unstoppable – but not indestructible.
Neither the pair’s freedom nor the domesticity and stability Laura’s sister subscribes to are glamorised as the answer to (young) adulthood’s problems. The mundanity is not the most cinematic but provides a nuanced look at questions to which there are no easy answers. That said, money is implied to be such a solution; while financial worries make cursory appearances, Animals continues the trend of prioritising affluent white women’s tales on screen. It does not cheapen the enjoyment but unfortunately offers nothing new.
Animals meanders its way through Laura’s and Tyler’s messy lives, leading to an understated ending. It may not be the neatest conclusion, but its depiction of reluctant maturity rings true. More importantly, its warmth highlights the film’s strongest charms and fierce fighting heart. These friends will likely remain in viewers minds and hearts long after the credits roll.
CAST: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat, Fra Fee, Dermot Murphy
DIRECTOR: Sophie Hyde
WRITERS: Emma Jane Unsworth
SYNOPSIS: Two best friends’ carefree lives and close friendship is threatened when one meets the man with whom she may want to spend the rest of her life.