Movie fans love both heist films and true-crime tales, and we get a captivating two-for-one deal with American Animals, a based-on-real-events thriller about four Kentucky college kids who, in December 2004, used elderly disguises to steal John James Audubon’s valuable Birds of America collection of books from the Special Collections Library at Transylvania University. That scheme didn’t go off as planned (to say the least) and, in the process, became one of the most bizarre robbery sagas in recent memory. It’s wild subject matter for a film that itself doesn’t play by normal rules, blending fiction and nonfiction elements to recount its crazy story — and now, you can exclusively watch the movie’s first few minutes right here.
As directed by Bart Layton, American Animals’ opening sets its suspenseful tone and its novel approach, which involves dramatically restaging its events — via a cast that includes Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, and Jared Abrahamson — while complementing that primary action with documentary interviews with the actual quartet who committed the crime, as well as their families, friends, and acquaintances. The result is a genre film rife with unreliable narrators (think of it as I, Tonya as helmed by Errol Morris). And it’s one that soon becomes concerned with not only generating thrills from its central robbery, but from investigating the sense of privilege that compelled this quartet of well-to-do kids to try to pull off this crazy swindle — which necessitated immobilizing the librarian in order to nab the rare tomes.
Led by intense performances from Peters and Keoghan, American Animals is unlike most any heist film you’ve ever seen. To get a taste of its unconventionality, check out the opening scene above, and see the entire feature in theaters now.
Watch the trailer:
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