3 June 2019 | carrythe2
A mostly enjoyable depiction of enduring friendship
Two young women, Laura and Tyler, share a close 10-year friendship of hedonistic, carefree times in Dublin with all the drink, drugs and casual encounters with boys that implies. Their friendship is one of those platonic almost-marriages - they share a bed as well as a flat and never leave each other's side. But life is beginning to intrude more and more into their happy world as they enter their 30s and cross that dreaded line into a new era where one's life is suddenly supposed to have meaning. Laura's sister Jean, a former fellow traveller on their wild adventures, is newly married, pregnant, sober and increasingly distasteful of her sister's apparent immaturity - and even more so of Tyler, a freewheeling partier who becomes increasingly despondent as she realises she is losing her friend.
But while all of this may sound thoroughly predictable, what Animals does well is to diverge from by-the-numbers plotting and not hem in its characters with cliche responses or obvious moral lessons. Laura is determined not to go quietly into a life of marriage and cohabitation with her new fiancé, Jim, or to leave behind her BFF despite the inevitable forces coming between them. And the film throws up little surprises that keep you on your toes and keep up the story's momentum.
Unfortunately, what's lacking is wit - it just isn't as entertaining in depicting banter as it aspires to be. While the dynamic of the two lead characters has been compared to Withnail and I, for legitimate reasons, that comparison brings obvious trouble with it - W&I was full of brilliantly funny scenes of nothing but two guys being drunk, high or horrifically hungover, a tricky thing that few imitators have pulled off well. There are large parts of this film (particularly the first half hour or so) that rely too much on the audience finding the characters and their antics hilarious. While the characters are likeable, they aren't much more entertaining than your real-life friends, even if they do quote Yeats more frequently.
Overall, though, it deserves credit for being a truthful and heartfelt depiction of enduring friendship and a break with the expected norms of both film storytelling and of polite society. If you find the dialogue a shred more entertaining than I did, you'll have a blast.