When Animals Dream – A werewolf film with a feminist bite
Directed by: Jonas Alexander Arnby
2015 was an interesting year for movies. There were a minuscule number of truly great films, but seemingly countless very good ones. Because of that, I am still catching up on the movies I wanted to see, over the last year. Many of them slipped through the cracks, but thanks to a slow January I am finally gaining ground. One of the foreign films I had on my “To watch” list, all year, but never got around to watching until now is “When Animals Dream”. A feature film debut from director Jonas Alexander Arnby, it got a lot of critical attention (both good and bad) last year, and now having finally watched it I am here to share my thoughts with you all.
The film’s story centers on 16 year old Marie (Suhl). While living her with her father and ill mother (Richter), who she helps care for, Marie begins to notice that her body is going through some troubling changes. Her father (a strong performance from Lars Mikkelsen) and doctor both act strangely and seem to be hiding something from Marie, but neither will give her any answers. That changes though, when the town they live in starts to have people come up mysteriously missing. See… the townsfolk know all about Marie’s mother’s “Illness” and the chaos it wreaked on the town before she started receiving heavy doses of medication. Now they suspect her condition has been passed down to Marie, and they intend on doing something about it.
I was really impressed with this movie. Not only by Arnby’s directing, or the beautiful cinematography from Niels Thastum, or the aggressive score, but by the masterful performance from Sonia Suhl. Helped by the film’s perfect pacing, Suhl deftly transforms her character from sheepish young lady to empowered, unafraid woman. Yes that is helped along by the fact that she is a bloodthirsty creature of the night, but cool transformation scene aside I really just loved watching the evolution of Marie’s human side.
I am also impressed with Arnby. As I mentioned, the film’s pacing is brilliant and the ethereal way it was shot lends a unique aura to a genre that is extremely crowded. The setting and environment are more of a vehicle for the story than the sparse dialogue, and it works to perfection. I can’t wait to see where Arnby’s directing career goes from here. For now though I am just happy I finally made time to watch “When Animals Dream”, and I suggest you do as well. As of this writing, it is on Netflix streaming so go check it out!