American Animals

American Animals ★★½

Much effort went into ensuring that I would recognize that I am being presented with unreliable details. The film goes Rashomon-lite (viewer must be like: which of you narrators can I trust?), which was ultimately an underused narrative element. Unfortunately, pitting narrator against narrator is not effective when the truth being picked apart is the most minor details (like what Person A was wearing during Incident A). 

I had a bad attitude about all that because the cleverness/multiple perspectives/documentary-frame truly only goes skin deep. The ambitiousness of this movie‘a structure gets strangled by how each part of the structure doesn’t go far enough and fails to seduce me. The actual documentary elements are snuffed out by badly wielded The Office energy; and then the embedded heist movie gets snuffed out by the those almost-interesting documentary pieces.

Performances: memorable, excellent—on all counts. Music: memorable. Casting: remarkable, excellent. Interview footage: hilarious, undercut by non-documentary parts of the film (read as: over two-thirds of the film ). Cinematography: kinda silly.

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