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Quebec Premiere
  • Spain
  • 2012
  • 94 mins
  • DCP
  • Spanish / English
  • English (subtitles)
WINNER: Best First Feature, Sant Jordi de Cinematografia 2013
Official Selection, Sitges 2012
Official Selection, Miami International Film Festival 2013

“Troubled teens and a talking teddy bear populate the bizarre world of Marçal Forés’ shimmering, ambitious debut” – Jonathan Holland, VARIETY

Every teenaged boy needs a best friend. Seventeen-year-old Pol has the closest friend a boy his age could want, a confidant and a comforting pillar of strength. His name is Deerhoof — and he happens to be a talking teddy bear. The boy does what he can to keep his special friendship secret. In school, he’s shy but a good student. His most meaningful friendship is with an older girl named Laia, who’s got a huge crush on him, a fact that is obvious to everyone in the school — except for Pol. A strange new student arrives, capturing the boy’s imagination. A young girl disappears. Classmates become increasingly rebellious and irrational. Something weird is happening at this school, stranger than Deerhoof, more dangerous than teenaged alienation, more powerful than the rawest spiritual aura. Pol’s coming-of-age is complicating an already complicated existence and his entire world is about to spin off its axis.

Not every filmmaker can pull off a dark teen outsider film with a drum-playing talking teddy bear and make it the stuff of emotionally charged dreams and nightmares. But then, not every filmmaker is Marçal Forés. Poetic, hypnotic and doggedly unconventional, this is a film that has amazed and polarized audiences at festivals across Europe. It dives headfirst into an exploration of self-destructive urges, social confusion and blurring sexual identifications with the combined weaponry of witty surrealism and panic-stricken melancholia, all told with a gentle but constant blurring of fantasy and reality. Not an easy pill to swallow for some, and certainly not a rational one. In other words, it’s a dream-like depiction of the extremities and sorrows of teenaged turmoil, woven as psychological fantasy.

Evocative of both DONNIE DARKO and LEOLO with a touch of Charles Burns, ANIMALS taps into a volatile whirlpool of adolescent anxieties and identity issues, addressing complex themes through a wealth of unconventional approaches. It’s a heavy trip, yes, but it’s an entertaining and fantastical one. Among the film’s many odd touches, look for THE HOBBIT’s Martin Freeman in a surprising supporting role. Buy the ticket. Take the ride. If you’re lucky, you just might not survive into adulthood.

— Mitch Davis