A blind man searches for answers after a horrific act of violence.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Larry Lewis Jr. ...
Larry
Darren Branch ...
Darren
Jessica Elizabeth Cole ...
Candy
Dutch Crouse ...
Detective Dutch
...
Darius Szopa
Josette Barchilon ...
Carla
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Andris Brunovskis ...
Darren's Friend
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Storyline

AARDVARK is perhaps the first narrative film to star a man blind since birth. In a role inspired by his own life, Larry Lewis plays a solitary man recovering from alcoholism and working towards stability. When he joins a Jiu Jitsu academy he finds a close friend in his young hard-partying instructor, Darren. But, as disturbing aspects of Darren's life are revealed Larry soon finds himself alone and faced with the consequences of a horrific act of violence. Written by Naked Faces

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Crime | Thriller

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4 June 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mrówkojad  »

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2.35 : 1
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For all it's earnest intentions, Aardvark remains an enigma
10 October 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Aardvarks are strange little creatures. Not especially attractive, they distinguish themselves among prey animals as being especially nasty when deliberately provoked. They look benign enough, almost laughable with their short squat legs and long pig-like snout. But they can kill a predator often by virtue of sheer tenacity. One of their tricks is to roll onto their backs, seemingly defeated, only to rip their attackers to shreds with a cluster of claws that closely resemble box cutters. They won't start a fight but they can finish one.

I can only think this was the titular inspiration for Kitao Sakurai's enigmatically lachrymose "thriller" (a stretch for sure). Larry Lewis, who is blind from birth, is the star of this off-the-radar indie from 2010 and is something like the burrowing nocturnal mammal of the film's title. He's largely an object of curiosity or vague mockery, yet he's extremely independent and, one senses (especially in the first scene of him stalking unrelentingly through a very dense forest) tough. He's also something of a lone wolf.

Until he meets Darren (Darren Branch), a Jujitsu instructor, that is. Branch quickly engages us with an absorbing monologue on the philosophy of this fascinating self-defense art early in the film. It's a four or five minute speech, but it flies by --- it's that well written and delivered. Branch is also skilled in subtly relaying many of his character's self-destructive, darker urges, often times non-verbally. Darren becomes embroiled in some shady activity that is never fully elucidated (another failing on the part of Sakurai). When Darren turns up dead in his apartment, Larry's claws come out, in surprisingly violent outbursts.

Although the reason why Larry and Darren click so well isn't overtly apparent, the attraction seems believable from Darren's side of the fence.

Larry Lewis, by contrast, is not so adroit in this regard and that's to the movie's detriment. He's not a professional actor and it's painfully obvious. I guess since Larry and Darren are playing versions of "themselves" Sakurai assumed dramatic training wasn't important. Well...sorry, when you're attempting something this complex, it does. This isn't a documentary.

Neither actors get much in the way of help from Sakurai's script or direction. He seems to be relying exclusively on the actors to do all the work. That can succeed in some cases, but Aardvark's story is simply too oblique to benefit from this kind of laissez-faire direction.

As a result, you get a film that can accurately be summarized (as another reviewer did) as "tedious". It is not a well-paced film, and Sakurai's free-form narrative doesn't fill in the blanks, in any regard, as to motivations, subtextual emotional current, etc.

That said, it is a very well-photographed (often downright beautiful) feature film, and if you are in the mood for a piece of filmmaking that has that tranquil, hypnotic quality (such as that produced regularly by Gus Van Sant), you might like Aardvark. Unfortunately, Sakurai has neither the story-telling chops or ability to draw out amazing performances from his players, as does Van Sant. He's in over his head with this one.

Aardvark is daring in its own quiet way, but it's overreach eventually strands you at it's joltingly-abrupt denouement, unfulfilled and frustrated at its lofty yet admirable ambitions.


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