“The Animal Kingdom”, in every man sleeps a beast


We had left Romain Duris as a fiery Aramis in The three Musketeers. d’Artagnan, by Martin Boutboulon, we find him as a very ordinary man of our time in The Animal Kingdomsecond feature film (after The fighters, in 2014) by Thomas Cailley, presented, Wednesday, May 17, at the opening of Un certain regard. Film that changes tone as quickly as shot, mixes many genres, hesitates between all of them, to the point of sometimes giving the feeling of abandoning the story to its own fate. Effect that struggles to correct the scenario whose solidity is lacking.

The Animal Kingdom, after throwing into its pot a bit of fantasy, a hint of fable, a pinch of police investigation, a few minor secondary characters, a note of seriousness and another of comedy, becomes pure entertainment. The case would be far from boring if the film did not claim, in passing, to give us a speech based on the evils and failings of the time, at the same time as on the future in danger of humanity. Of all this, we especially remember the fine performance of the young actor Paul Kircher.

When the film begins, François (Romain Duris) and his son Emile (Paul Kircher, revealed in the high school student, by Christophe Honoré, in 2022), aged 16, are in the car, stuck in traffic jams, in Paris. In front of them, an ambulance pitches, shaken by violent convulsions. Then emerges from the passenger compartment, causing the door to fly, a half-man, half-raptor creature, with long outstretched wings, which creates panic and sows chaos in the lines of motorists. Soon enough, however, everything is back to normal. We then understand that this strangeness is not unheard of. The phenomenon has already occurred.

wave of mutations

The following sequence confirms this, showing us François and Emile in a doctor’s office at the hospital. They learn there that the state of health of Lana (wife of one and mother of the other) presents a clear improvement. His transfer to a support center in the south of France is imminent. The father and the son organize themselves to follow her, find accommodation, a job and a school nearby.

The disease from which Lana suffers operates a radical change in the human being, gradually transforming him into an animal. The disease is turning into an epidemic, affecting more and more people. So much so that, in the South, when sick people escape from the convoy which transports them, following a road accident, the situation becomes out of control. The soldiers are called to the rescue to help the gendarmerie. In the vacation center where François and Emile have settled, fear sets in, awakening instincts that have nothing to envy to the animal world against which they rise up.

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