American Animals (2018)
September 2, 2018 7:22 AM - Subscribe

Based on a true story, four bright and well-off college students in Kentucky plot to steal some rare books from their university's Special Collections Library in a misguided quest for personal glory.
posted by ellieBOA (6 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In the opening of the film they make a point of saying this isn't "based" on a true story - it is the true story. More of a dramatized documentary than your standard heist film, and also made with the participation of the actual people involved. The amateur plotters are just this side of comically inept, but it isn't really played for laughs - overall I found the approach very interesting.
posted by each day we work at 9:31 AM on September 2, 2018

for anyone not familiar with the case outside of the movie:

"American Animals, in its attempt to rehabilitate the boys, portrays them as reluctant to assault Gooch. It’s a narrative technique meant to soften a brutal encounter, and to reaffirm the otherwise likable image we have of them up to that point. But the truth is less sympathetic....

...How the people who wink and nod at this crime — after all, it’s only library books they stole — reconcile the attack on BJ Gooch, I do not know. Layton does it by showing us that the boys are really sorry. But I cannot get past it. As a human it irritates me. As a special collections librarian it terrifies me. But as a person who studies rare book crime it disappoints me; it’s just such a bad way to steal books."

beyond that, it cannot be overstated how fucking dumb these boys were and how comprehensively ignorant they were about what they were stealing. it's almost impossible for me not to sympathize with anybody who steals something they really, really want, even if that something is just money. these boys don't qualify. that entire article is essential.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:54 AM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the link, really great reading. I felt so uncomfortable watching this movie, at least got some more heist movie recommendations from it.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:49 AM on September 2, 2018

Between this and Hereditary, Ann Dowd is just killing it this year.
posted by Cogito at 6:36 PM on September 3, 2018

I didn't enjoy this one. I don't like watching clueless idiots behave destructively (fictionalized or not). I don't find that sort of thing cute or funny, and it felt as though I was supposed to. I don't like the way the movie whitewashed the boys, making them look more moral than they actually were. It was at least a bit of a relief that the boys seem to have learned some sense since, and are living productive lives, but I'd just as soon have skipped the movie and read the Medium article queenofbithynia linked to.
posted by orange swan at 9:56 PM on May 3, 2019

Don’t You Want To See What Happens Next? - The Sundae
American Animals is one of the most resolutely anti-violence films I’ve ever seen. Violence, in the film, is intrinsically, unbearably evil. [...]

There are broadly two types of film violence: serious violence, which feels real and urgent and unsettling, and fun violence, which can range from slapstick to choregraphed dance but is never supposed to be realistic. American Animals sets you up for fun violence: it’s a heist movie, and it wears its genre influences on its sleeve. But it doesn’t just take a left turn towards serious violence – it takes a much sharper turn than that, to something that goes beyond just realism.

The violence of the robbery is deeply disturbing, even haunting.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:51 AM on June 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

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