Animals: Film Review

There have been so many films showing men behaving badly over the years that it always makes a nice change to see women being given those kinds of roles.

Based on the 2014 novel by Emma Jane Unsworth, Sophie Hyde‘s Animals stars Holliday Grainger as Laura, a struggling Irish writer working as a barista in Dublin, where she lives with her American best friend Tyler (Alia Shawkat). They love to party above all else and regularly binge drink, take drugs and engage in casual sex. They are inseparable and plan to grow old together, but all that changes when Laura gets engaged to serious and teetotal concert pianist Jim (Fra Free).

It’s so refreshing to see a close female friendship portrayed onscreen in a realistic way – they can be difficult, there can be ups and downs, but they’ll be there for each other at the end of the day. I could recognise a lot of myself and my friendships because it’s so true to life, how these relationships have to adapt and change over time when you grow up and get married etc.

Although they are both leads, this is very much a film about Laura and her struggles to write a book she’s been working on for 10 years and her trying to balance her old life with Tyler and her new one with Jim. Grainger is extraordinary in the part. She always shines onscreen but she’s particularly captivating here, and her Irish accent was very convincing. Shawkat is excellent too as the staunch feminist Tyler – who can’t understand why her friend would get married and limit herself to one person – and their chemistry was very believable.

I don’t generally care for films where people are just getting high or drunk all the time – hence why I don’t love Trainspotting or Withnail & I – but this has more substance to it. Yes, they love to go wild and party, but I cared more about their friendship, their different approaches to feminism, particularly when it comes to marriage, and Laura figuring out if monogamy is really for her.

I really enjoyed Animals and I related to it a lot. Highly recommend.

In selected cinemas now 

(Rating: 4/5)



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