Pol and Friend
“Animals” is the film debut by young and talented director Marçal Forés. Genre wise it falls somewhere
between the romantic cruelty of Japanese manga and the introspective fantasy of a Donnie Darko. The film blurs the borders between everyday reality and fantasy in a coming-of-age story with an inevitable and emotional climax.
Pol (Oriol Pal) is a teen who lives with his brother, Llorenc (Javier Beltran) who he hates and is in high school. . His best friend is his secret—Deerhoof, a teddy bear that plays a mean guitar and thinks and the two are together all the time and Deerhoof hears all of Pol’s best and worst moments. Ikari (Augustus Prew), an enigmatic student enters Pol’s life and he seems to be hiding something. Pol thinks he is fascinating and exciting and he is really attracted to Ikari’s dark side. As the two boys get to know each other a death occurs that cannot be explained and a series of strange events begin to occur. Life then becomes an adventure and soon takes over the boys’ lives.
The film not only explores the relationship between Pol and Deerhoof and what happens when he tries to move into the adult world. What is so interesting is that the movie works while the idea of a boy and his stuffed animal seems ridiculous. The relationship between boy and bear is sweet and Deerhoof is wonderful and he really breathes life into the film. We know immediately that this is not a regular film or a straightforward narrative. It is, however, a beautiful and surreal film which captures the uncertainty, the beauty and the pain of adolescence.
Pol is a confused teen and a complex character. He does not really know what he wants or expects from life. He can’t seem to leave childhood. Then his world becomes even more complicated when Ikari arrives at school and Pol is drawn is drawn to him even though he represents the dangers of adulthood. Pol is naïve, moody and reflective and Oriol as Pol is wonderful.
Undoubtedly the film will be compared to “Donnie Darko” and that does not harm this movie in any way. For me, the part of the film that I really loved was an exploration of the consequences of the decisions of adults on the lives of teens especially regarding what information adults choose to disclose and what not.
I do not think you can see this film without talking about it afterwards. There do not seem to be many answers and that is a positive for me. Visually the film is a feast for the eyes as it explores Pol’s problematic and emotional life. Marcal Fores gives us a fascinating time at the movies.