American Animals ★★½

It started off too cute: in addition to documentary–narrative crossover, much effort went into ensuring that I would recognize the truthy “touches” that make what is being presented “unreliable.” (A lite Rashomony, ultimately underused, multi-narrator structure.) For example, two narrators providing trivial counter-narratives—“No, he was wearing a blue scarf...I think” (note: not a for-real actual quote).

I had a bad attitude about all that because the cleverness/perspectiveness/documentary-frame only went skin-deep. This film is crazy ambitious; but I’d have liked to have seen it as two or three less ambitious, more successful films. I value ambition a lot, so I hate admitting that. 

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

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