American Animal


Bizarre, off-putting, and finally demanding of rubberneck respect, this fish-tank indie never leaves a rather lovely duplex apartment, occupied by an unemployed Everyman (Brendan Fletcher) and his roommate, Jimmy (director Matt D’Elia). A bony, bearded man-child evoking a young Mick Fleetwood, Jimmy seems to be sick with something, and his morning routine is a barrage of medication that transforms his day into a monstrous, nonstop amphetamine-amped vaudeville show, complete with crazy costume changes, fantasy delusions, and spontaneous outbursts. Soon two girls named Angela show up (Mircea Monroe and Angela Sarafyan), and everybody gets stoned, and things, as they say, devolve. The conversation often eats its own tail, like a Beckett sitcom, as Jimmy’s infantile impulses finally trigger a screaming match between the roommates over the value of self-indulgent narcissism versus responsibility toward others. (The experience is exhausting, like being trapped in an elevator with someone in a schizoaffective state.) Far less mumblecore than manic shtick, D’Elia’s film (he wrote and edited, as well) is sustained against all likelihood by the acting, which is three-fourths consistently witty and one-fourth—D’Elia’s portion—a bludgeoning feat of committed delirium.