We’re No Animals (2013) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

WERE NO ANIMALS

Director: Alejandro Agresti
Writers: Alejandro Agresti (screenplay), John Cusack (screenplay)
Stars: John Cusack, Paul Hipp, Kevin Morris

Tony (John Cusack) is a famous Hollywood actor tired and bored of making broad and commercial movies and travels with his colleagues Rudy Maravilla (Paul Hipp), Syd Kuliaky (Kevin Morris) and Patrick Pesto (Alejandro Agresti) to Argentina to experiment in foreign and independent film.

Having recently just got round to watching “We’re No Animals” I found the style this movie was shot in a very messy and choppy style at times. The movie flits between what looks like improvised dialogue between the actors being themselves in between shooting and scenes within the movie they are making. It may just be me but the filming style didn’t change between both and the only time I could tell when there was a film within the film was the occasional boom mic showing to highlight this.

As I mentioned, the dialogue is clearly improvised and the storyline looks like it is loosely based on a template from Director and Writer Alejandro Agresti and John Cusack. This project must have been an actors dream to have the shackles off and being allowed to express themselves for the duration of this movie. From an audiences point of view I felt the film was a bit indulgent to an extent and trying its best to be whimsical. There in my opinion was at times an air of pretentiousness throughout the movie and some of the scenes went on a little too long and became boring.

The movie is also broken down into events (or chapters) with a kind of Tarantino style title card setting up the scene. The difference being Quentin Tarantino used this as a style in filmmaking, in this movie I believe it was used to keep the audience up to speed with things and to ease them into the scene. If that was the case, I believe the filmmaker perhaps didn’t have the confidence that the audience member would be able to keep up to speed throughout the duration of the film and that should be rule number one of making a good film. “Never treat your audience like a bunch of idiots” Harsh? Perhaps but that’s what I took from this.

John Cusack, Paul Hipp and Kevin Morris carry the majority of the scenes and it’s rare that Cusack doesn’t stand out amongst the cast members. All three actors really have the same screen time and appear to all have the same characteristics throughout and watching this you don’t get any attachment to the characters or leave you caring for them in anyway.

Strangely Al Pacino makes a somewhat brief cameo in the movie and portrays a mysterious mastermind orchestrating the project from afar. Ironically although brief probably has the best dialogue in the film improvised or not. Having checked various sites I actually don’t see Al Pacino credited or uncredited in his role, albeit a cameo appearance.

Alejandro Agresti doubles up as the Director and Co-Writer on this film but also portrays the character Patrick Pesto who understandably doesn’t have the same amount of screen time as Cusack, Hipp or Morris probably due to other duties. I think I would be a little more generous if this was his directorial debut but Agresti did direct The Lake House (2006) and although it’s the character “Tony” who tires of Hollywood and moves away to try some experimental film I’m almost convinced this is the Director’s story through the eyes of his main character.

Unfortunately “We’re No Animals” is difficult to understand what its intentions are supposed to be. The movie is experimental at best but disappointingly ends with no significance and will leave  audiences unsatisfied. Even if you are a fan of Cusack, Hipp or Morris I can’t recommend watching this self indulgent project.

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