Early in this deeply rewarding coming-of-age drama, protagonist Mati tries on a pink graduation dress and mutters, “It looks shitty.” Mati would rather be in her motocross gear, racing with her gang: three boys who treat Mati as an equal. But the future is approaching, and change is in the air. Best pal Sebi suddenly wants more than friendship, while Mati finds herself attracted to Carla, a client at her mother’s veterinary clinic. And it’s not just the adolescents who are in flux; seismic shifts are taking place in Mati’s parents’ seemingly placid lives as well. Mati wants things to stay the same, but in the words of the titular song, “the animal which is inside me won’t let me live in happiness again.” Mati is discovering her own inner animal.
L’animale unfolds in leisurely scenes played out in green-toned, light-filled rural Austria. The camerawork is masterful, creating harmonious compositions of pastoral peace that play off the characters’ emotional turmoil. Cruelty and violence erupt with frightening suddenness as Mati struggles with conflicting loyalties. She’s a chameleon: the dutiful daughter who helps her mother in the clinic, as well as the tough girl who backs up her crew during a brawl at the local club. Will Mati keep spinning in circles on her motorcycle or choose her own path? This complex film offers no easy answers; rather, it is a rich portrait of a teenager at a crossroads.
— MONICA NOLAN
The Brantley Smith Group | Merrill Lynch
- Language: In German with English subtitles
- Premiere Status: North America