My Animal movie review & film summary (2023)
Movie Reviews

My Animal movie review & film summary (2023)

Heather and Jonny’s creators sometimes inadvertently bury their characters’ feelings in features-obscuring silhouettes and by-the-numbers teen and family drama. That lack of variation isn’t surprising, though, since most of the adult characters are defined by their provincial hangups, while most adolescent protagonists follow their gut. Meanwhile, the inescapable snow, the dead woods, and the constricting backroads that connect them don’t reflect much beyond hackneyed symbols of grief and solitude. A room lit only by an old TV set playing a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” only expresses so much when the camera, the lighting, and the human performers don’t get to embellish the scene’s main concept. 

McHattie and Menuez’s chemistry stands out partly out of necessity as their relationship gives viewers an essential warmth and world-defining flavor that, say, Jonny and Heather’s intensely felt but unremarkably expressed relationship does not. Still, it’s worth noting that McHattie, a veteran character actor, lends an earthy credibility to his dialogue. He also brings out the best in Menuez, who doesn’t often get to show off what she can do given her characters’ inexpressive dialogue, behavior, and general presentation.

Eventually, the lack of werewolf-related carnage is the least concerning thing about “My Animal.” Some viewers might be able to see themselves and their struggles reflected in Heather, though that will ultimately say more about the road the filmmakers have chosen to travel than the movie that they actually made. Some tropes also remain evocative, like the image of a full, blood-red moon as it transforms into a lone gigantic eyeball. Even a rare lycanthrope sighting looks good enough to be suggestive, at least as far as makeup and lighting go. But the rest of “My Animal” accidentally stresses the limits of our understanding, presumably so that we, as passive viewers, can fill in the blanks for ourselves.

Now playing in select theaters and available on digital platforms on September 15. 

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