LIFF28 - When Animals Dream - Cinema Review

'Arnby starts with cold vistas of the film's Danish setting, but rarely does he return to them, instead deciding to focus on segments that move the plot on at pace.'

You can pick which metaphor you think the Horror in When Animals Dream is communicating to its audience, for multiple options are available.

Discovering a rash on her breast, Marie (Sonia Suhl) at first seems worried that she may be about to inherit the disease which has left her mother (Sonja Richter) in an uncommunicative, wheelchair-bound state. Whilst Marie worries about what is happening to her, amid secretive meetings between her father (Lars Mikkelsen) and doctor (Stig Hoffmeyer), she begins working in a fish processing factory, where local fisherman Daniel (Jakob Oftebro) takes an interest.

There's certainly an argument that director Jonas Alexander Arnby has something to say about the horrifying inevitability of genetic disease, with Marie's fate apparently sealed beyond certainty from the off. In a film that offers numerous ideas, there's also the perhaps more popular option that the Horror Marie eventually experiences is more to do with her sexual awakening, as her body undergoes change not every character in the film is willing to embrace. There's a strong through-thread about body perception, a particularly potent topic when dealing with the self-perception of young women, and Arnby shuffles his deck of subtext well to include all of the above fairly gracefully.

For a film so full of things it wants to consider though, When Animals Dream isn't half in a rush. At just eighty-four minutes there was clearly time to give the rattle-paced plot a bit more time to breathe. Arnby starts with cold vistas of the film's Danish setting, but rarely does he return to them, instead deciding to focus on segments that move the plot on at pace. There's a curious disconnect between the film's occasional patient beauty, and its impatience to rush past that beauty to something more plot driven, especially given that that very plot is concerned with how we perceive the natural visage of things.

Having duly rushed to his finale, we are treated to a wonderful ten minutes or so of Horror; tense, grisly and with some beauty, but its impact could surely have been heightened with greater time and care in the setup.




When Animals Dream plays LIFF again on Sunday 9th November at 20.30 in Vue.

The 28th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 5th-20th November 2014 at cinemas around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall. Tickets and more information are available via the official LIFF website.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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