Only the Animals
Director: Dominik Moll
‘Only the Animals’ is one of those movies that continually twists and turns, showing you that your ability to understand any situation is limited by your perspective and access to information – both as a spectator and as participant.
Not so out-of-the-box. Tarantino (now a retired director) was forever cutting up his movies and rearranging them for our gratuitous delight, the legendary Alfred Hitchcock frequently gave us only a smattering of information as he wanted us on the edge of our seats, while director Christopher Nolan plays with consequential time – and its reverse! – so we are never quite on solid ground.
However, economies of scarcity – both financially and emotionally – for me are the connecting themes of Dominik Moll’s ‘Only the Animals’.
Moll introduces two completely different worlds and how they interact through ‘need’. At one end of the spectrum we have Armand (Guy Roger); a young man living in a shared room with his family in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, who mines for lonely white men in more affluent cultures using female personas accompanied by photos and video. Director Moll gives us glimpses of these young men at work, sitting on a dirt floor in a tiny room, luring the gullible, the romantic or the just plain horny initially through text messages and then through more explicit, online material. At the other end of the spectrum, we meet a lot of lonely people in a far more affluent, French village.
Do we feel sorry for the young men who resort to such duplicitous behaviour? Do we feel sorry for their victims? For me it is a ‘yes’ on both counts. These young men would probably be the equivalent of entrepreneurs in our own culture; identifying a gap in the market and turning it into a business when their own physical environment can offer them no other work. The men they are mining are lonely and in need of love and tenderness, or sex and titillation.
And the girls? The emotional and economic needs of the female characters in ‘Only the Animals’ also propel the script, one particular relationship between an older woman and a young waitress that is opportunistic on one side though not transactional, illustrates how cruel loveless sex can be for the more vulnerable of the pair.
The film would have taken on another dimension all together if the circumstances of the girls whose images and video snippets are used in ‘Only the Animals’ were explored. Did they sell the images? Were the images stolen or taken by coercion? What was the need or desire that put their images into the public domain? Do they ever wonder how many people curse or treasure them??
As ‘Only the Animals’ is a thriller containing love, lust and murder I certainly haven’t given away the game with my little write-up. It is a film head-and-shoulders above most films screening at present though it is a tad too long.
‘Only the Animals’ is now playing as part of the French Film Festival.
And on Stan TV this week, documentary ‘Sex on the Beach’ (directed by Gussy Sakula-Barry) gives another insight into how those living in poverty will always find a way to feed themselves and their families.
‘Sex on the Beach’ would probably not raise an eyebrow if it had been about older English blokes visiting impoverished Gambia in West Africa to find gorgeous young Gambian women prepared to fulfil their sexual and emotional desires for a fee. What makes this documentary stand out is that it has flipped the power/gender relationship and it is relatively wealthy older English women who are paying for sex with young Gambian men; the economic and social freedom enjoyed by the English women in ‘Sex on the Beach’ having become the economic ticket for young Gambian men to provide for their communities.
So much for equality of the sexes. Flipping transactional relationships in a world that is structured to allow the existence of poverty is nothing to celebrate.
Same, same but different.