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Opens Thursday January 21 in Australia.
Dominik Moll’s Only The Animals is very pretty to look at, pretty fun and pretty ridiculous. If you approach it with the right attitude, it will deliver a solid couple of hours of entertainment.
An “everything-is-connected” film along the lines of Crash, Babel and Amores Perros, Moll’s wintry drama bends over backwards to make the connections. As such, it is contrived to the point of parody. But, despite the tone and performances being very straight-faced, the film works if you allow it in as a black comedy, a joke, or at least a shaggy-dog story. These films need contrivance; this one is more contrived than most; accept it and enjoy the ride. I did, even if a couple of the coincidences really did make me groan out loud.
Centered around the appearance of a dead body in a rural community, and spreading itself across a wide swathe of themes including the effects of isolation and grief, internet fraud, obsessive attraction and stalking, mental illness and – bien sûr – adultery, Only The Animals appears hugely ambitious, but it really comes down to a few central performances, most notably that of Denis Ménochet. Having menaced us in Custody (and other films), his deft portrayal here of a man obsessed with an online lover plays sneakily with his established persona. It’s the kind of trick the film needs to work, and, despite its clearly rickety narrative machinery, it does, just.