Brendan Fletcher (#110 of 1)

SXSW 2011: American Animal

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SXSW 2011: <em>American Animal</em>
SXSW 2011: <em>American Animal</em>

If Andrew Haigh, the director of Weekend, the earnest, prosaic, and mostly unsurprising British drama that won an Emerging Visions Audience Award at South by Southwest last night, is considered a fresh new voice in cinema, then what about Matt D'Elia, who shows more breathtaking audacity in his debut feature, American Animal, than Haigh shows in his Richard Linklater-ish romantic talkfest? Don't get me wrong: Weekend, for all its gay-themed subject matter, is agreeable and sometimes quite moving. What it lacks is the brash confidence that American Animal exudes in abundance, the confidence of an artist willing to risk driving its audience up a wall in order to realize a defiantly unique personal vision. You won't necessarily warm to everything D'Elia throws at you, but you certainly won't leave the film without some kind of opinion on it.