Animals that cross roads
by Valentina di Michele
- Presented in Rome in its European premiere, Animals is Catalan Marçal Forés’ film debut
Last Friday, November 9, Animals [+see also:
film profile], enjoyed its European premiere in Rome. It is the second film to be entering the competition in the context of Alice in the City, dedicated to children’s films and running in parallel with Rome’s International Film Festival .
This is Marçal Forés’ debut film. The new director studied at the ESCAC in Barcelona. His film was presented at the San Sebastian Festival last month and was talked about because of its similarities (more promotionally than in actual fact) to cult films Donnie Darko and Ghost World.
Similarly to these, Animals also touches on some of the themes surrounding adolescence as a difficult moment of entry into adulthood, including friendships, discovery of sexuality and the loss of innocence. But similarities stop here.
Pol is 17 and lives in a Catalonia stuck between a wood, a lake and the English school he goes to. He shares his loneliness with a teddy bear named Deerhoof, who for whatever reason (perhaps because imaginary friends don’t follow normal rules) speaks with a distorted voice and a perfect English accent.
Deerhoof cheers Pol up as he goes through difficult times. Together, they play music in his house’s garage to the great worry of Llorenç, Pol’s policeman brother (and his only family member).
At school, Pol only has two friends: Laia, who is in love with him, and irritating Marc. Surrounding them are animals moving in the wood – some real, some fake. The story, written by director Enric Pardo and Aintza Serra, unfolds quickly. Divided by the emergence of sexual impulses, represented by newly arrived school companion Ikari, and a fear of growing up - Deerhoof — Pol embarks on an increasingly painful journey, which ends badly.
“The film is a take on adolescence as a step in which one loses oneself. Growing up is about discovery, but also about the crisis that happens during the transition. Adolescence is the breaking with the past. Past purity is lost and a new world must be confronted with novel experiences,” the director told Cineuropa during the presentation of the film.
Immature, imperfect but intense and honest Animals is carried by a young group of protagonists (starting with Oriol Pla and Augustus Prew) and beautiful photography by Eduard Grau (A Single Man). The complicated screenplay is less of a success. It is weighed down by a long and complicated final scene full of dramatic moments in between reality and fantasy.
The film was made in 2010 in English and was produced by Escandalo Films (usual producers for ESCAC’s short feature films), with support from Televisió de Catalunya and other public funds. “I was lucky to be able to make my first film at the age of 28. This would not be possible today, it is considered a risky, strange film. But at the time there was more money,” Marçal added.
Barcelona-based Film Factory Entertainment has already sold the film in Russia, Belgium and Luxembourg, with talks under way in the United States and the United Kingdom.
(Translated from Italian)