Animals is the latest film to explore womens lives in a refreshingly realistic way. Why did it take Fleabag and Girls for cinema to realise there is more to a narrative than marriage?
When did you last see a film with a friendship between two women that felt real, a friendship that didnt play second fiddle to romance in the narrative arc, that was not trampled over or cast aside in the quest for true love? Love stories about female friends are vanishingly rare. But this summer, Olivia Wildes gorgeous coming-of-age story Booksmart arrived on screen. Now comes Animals, the director Sophie Hydes hedonistic Irish comedy about two best friends, underemployed graduates in their early 30s working as coffee-shop baristas. Imagine the lads from Withnail and I played by Patsy and Edina from Ab Fab and you have a decent impression of hard-partying double-act Laura and Tyler.
By night, you will find the pair played by Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat done up to the nines in charity shop sequins and green eyeliner, snorting, drinking and shagging their way around Dublin while quoting Yeats with grandiose theatrically. No man can keep them apart. When Tyler hooks up with a guy in a bar, she shoots Laura a saucy wink: Give me eight minutes. She is back in time for the next round.
Laura and Tyler live together, share a bed and pee in front of each other (peering into the loo to inspect the results: You need to drink more water). Humour is the films greatest strength. There are funny and rude scenes that will make you splutter one involving a pretentious poet stagily performing oral sex. However, the moments that stay with you are the serious ones tucked in among the laughs. When Tylers dad dies, she explains everything in a 15-second conversation. They have spent years psychoanalysing their families there is no need to spell out how she is feeling.
You may never have invited a friend to examine your urine, but you will almost certainly experience a jolt of recognition watching the friendship shorthand between these two entire conversations spoken in a couple of glances, inside jokes that no one else can decipher. It is radical, rare and bracing to see female friendship portrayed so intimately. Often it feels as if these relationships are somehow not interesting or important enough to put on a cinema screen.
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