Whimsical whereabouts warrant wayward wanderers to wonder when wicked woes will warp when wishing to withdraw while wordless.
Anonymous Animals is a foreign film from France, but don’t worry if you can’t speak French. It appears as though a group of anthropomorphic animals are collecting people. As it turns out the roles of people and animals have flipped. I say “it appears” because the film is presented entirely without dialogue. No words. None. Take time to process that. The animals speak in grunts and the humans don’t use words to communicate. This anthology starts in a foggy forest with an old man walking alone. He hears strange animal sounds in the distance and screaming, then it cuts to different stories with different sets of characters in a series of interconnecting tales of terror.
The entire cast of Anonymous Animals phenomenally articulates themselves with no words at all to give believable portrayals of real people in a real bad situation. They use facial expressions, hand signals, and other forms of body language to convey ideas. They aren’t just hopeless victims either. These strong individuals try their best to escape on multiple occasions with varying results. They made me feel sympathy for them without uttering a single word. None of the characters have names either. They demonstrate truly captivating acting without them looking silly like their playing charades or pantomiming. Ironically, how they can do this while still taking both them and their deadly scenario seriously says more about their acting than I ever could.
Written, directed, and edited by Baptiste Rouveure, he makes every scene count. From the way he moves the camera around, to how he does the framing, or even the way uses practical effects over CGI. It gives the creatures more of an authentic feeling of being living, breathing monstrosities. The environment is used to further substantiate the feelings of being lost and helplessness. The forest setting is filmed exquisitely with sweeping wide establishing shots to give viewers a sense of scale. The fog acts as a symbol of desolation. It’s as if the characters are in some sort of purgatory. The story moves along briskly enough to keep things interesting. The pieces of the puzzle fall together as time goes on. It’s edited with quick cuts so it gives us bits and pieces of each story as they unfold individually until it all comes together in the end. That being said, sometimes the editing is so choppy it’s hard to establish what exactly is happening.
Overall, I came into Anonymous Animals excited for a new foreign film. The only complaint I really have that took me out of the film was the turbulent editing. Sometimes the cuts are so quick it’s jarring to watch the constant jumping around of the camera angles. I came out of it glad to report it exceeded my expectations with its exceptional writing, directing, and acting. That’s no small feat considering the runtime is just over an hour, there’s no time to waste and the filmmakers know how to use to make every second on-screen count. I couldn’t look away. It’s comparable to a mix of Planet of the Apes and the original Twilight Zone. I can’t oversell this. It has to be seen to be believed. And remember, when the balance of power between man and animal is reversed we need to say “Au contraire,” without actually saying it of course.
9 out of 10