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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

When Animals Dream (Når dyrene drømmer) movie review (London Film Festival)

When Animals Dream green light

A social-realist werewolf fantasy in which burgeoning womanhood is a thing terrifying to many a man, particularly if a woman simply will not be tamed.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

See? When filmmakers stop imagining that boys and men must be at the center of their stories, all sorts of new possibilities open up, even in well-trod genres. When Animals Dream is ostensibly a werewolf fantasy, but if you’re looking for lots of scares and gore, keep moving. Director Jonas Alexander Arnby, making his feature debut, eschews a horror atmosphere in favor of something more social-realist for his tale of teenaged Marie (Sonia Suhl) and her coming of age on a remote Danish fishing island, in which screenwriter Rasmus Birch explores the notion of burgeoning womanhood as something terrifying to many a man, particularly if a woman simply will not be tamed. (See too? Who says men aren’t able to identify enough with women to tell a woman’s story? It’s not difficult!) The family doctor (Stig Hoffmeyer) warns Maria that she may well inherit the condition that afflicts her mother (Sonja Richter), who is wheelchair-bound and nearly unresponsive; symptoms include sudden-onset short-temperedness and aggression, which will have to be medicated out of her, naturally, to keep her calm and docile. But even as her body starts to change physically, Maria embraces her new power and strength in the face of men who want to control and contain her, from the harassing creeps at the fish-processing plant where she works to her own father (Lars Mikkelsen): Dad may only want to protect his daughter — he certainly is gentle and loving in his caretaking of his wife’s needs — but Maria will have none of it. Only her new boyfriend, Daniel (Jakob Oftebro), shows signs of, perhaps, not fearing her as she becomes more fully her true self. This is a striking and deeply satisfying portrait of a young woman welcoming womanhood as an elemental force that only gets stronger in the face of those who would stifle her.

viewed during the 58th BFI London Film Festival


green light 3.5 stars

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When Animals Dream (Når dyrene drømmer) (2015)
US/Can release: Aug 28 2015
UK/Ire release: direct to DVD

MPAA: rated R for some violence, sexuality/nudity and drug use
BBFC: rated 15 (strong horror, sex, sexualised nudity)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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