Shot in the real-life contemporary art world, FEMALE HUMAN ANIMAL is a psychothriller about a creative woman disenchanted with what modern life has to offer her. When writer Chloe Aridjis ...
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An abandoned seaside resort. The shooting for a fantasy film about the end of an era wraps up. Two women, both members of the film crew, one an actress, the other a director, Apocalypse and... See full summary »
Anne Lise Maulin
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Shot in the real-life contemporary art world, FEMALE HUMAN ANIMAL is a psychothriller about a creative woman disenchanted with what modern life has to offer her. When writer Chloe Aridjis curates the Tate retrospective of the surrealist Leonora Carrington, an elusive, brooding man appears, seeming to offer more. Enabled by the artworks' defiant mystery, Chloe pursues him. But as she descends into a world of obsession, is she hunter or hunted? A darkly romantic enactment of a woman going beyond societal norms, it puts on screen the lurid unconscious of our new sexual politics. Featuring the Volksbuhne's Marc Hosemann, appearances from cultural figures like Juliet Jacques, Marina Warner, Adam Thirlwell, Stewart Home and Tom McCarthy, scored by Andy Cooke with new music from TEARIST and electronica originators O.M.D., Female Human Animal also pays homage to its guiding feminist spirit, the iconic artist and writer Leonora Carrington.
Intriguing But Hollow, Though Maybe That's The Point
I was intrigued by this because of the poster and its description as both a 'documentary' AND 'thriller'*, so went into it with no further knowledge. I liked that it appears to have been shot on some form of low-resolution video, which gives it an unusually archaic and low-fi quality that cannot help but stand out in 2019, although on the downside can also make it look quite cheap and amateurish.
The story follows Chloe, the almost archetypal metropolitan art-world woman: pale, harried, neurotic, feminist, sexless and over-40, committed only to her cat, attending nightly book readings with the obligatory trans authors and insufferable wine-drinking bores. She begins to see around her a somewhat bizarre man who it seems she is attracted to because he reminds her of the paintings and intense relationship of the 1930s painter Leonora Carrington, who she is so obsessed by. Is he even real?
In some ways reminiscent of Polanski's 'Repulsion' and other 60s films about crumbling female psyches, it never really approaches those heights or says anything clearly and memorably of its own, except perhaps how increasingly violent women's sexual fantasies are becoming, so its final impression is really just one of distracted whimsy. The main character is good, but the rest of the cast are sometimes distractingly amateurish, and the incessantly whistling male love-interest is never remotely realistic enough to make us think he is anything but Chloe's twisted fantasy.
On the level of a student film it's nice enough though, and I appreciate it reaching for something even if it didn't get there.
*(let's be honest, it's neither).
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