Only the Animals, review: a scorching and icy mystery

The review of Only the Animals – Stories of loving spirits, a French choral thriller about a disturbing enigma that spans climates and continents.

Only the Animals – Stories of loving spirits: Damien Bonnard in one scene

With the review of Only the Animals – Stories of loving spirits you get that slightly weird feeling of talking about a movie that arrives in the room only now despite having been ready since before the pandemic. Dominik Moll’s feature film, in fact, made its debut in Italy, to be exact in Venice, as part of the Venice Days program in September 2019. And right now it arrives in Italian cinemas, perhaps not by chance, since in the last months, especially the distribution of French films in Italy has become impressive, often recovering titles that have passed through Venice, Berlin or Cannes. And in the case of Moll’s film, there is a more direct link with our cinema, outside of the aforementioned lidense passage, given that the cast is Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, bilingual and for years the ideal bridge between the two cinemas. separated by the Alps.

Disappearance in the snow

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Only the Animals – Stories of loving spirits: a scene

Only the Animals – Stories of loving spirits takes place mainly in the Lozère region, where a woman disappears without a trace during a blizzard. The only legacy, abandoned in the middle of the Méjean plain, is her car, and it is the trail on which the police investigation, not particularly fruitful, is based. The stories of five people in some way linked to the incident revolve around this mystery, whose backstories are not entirely French: from the alpine snows we pass in fact to the scorching sun of the Ivory Coast, where a young man specialized in online scams is about to discover that one of his deceptions could have consequences well beyond his control, because the damage of the network is not necessarily limited to the confined area of ​​the scammer and the defrauded person …

Venice 2019: The statements of Luca Marinelli and the other winners

Gallic restlessness

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Only the Animals – Stories of loving spirits: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Nadia Tereszkiewicz in one scene

French born in Germany, Dominik Moll (assisted by his companion Gilles Marchand, also a director) has always been interested in the border between real and unreal, playing on genres, even in a very ironic way (his previous film, News from planet Mars, did not has nothing strictly science fiction, but the protagonist is Mars by surname). Here we are in his usual thriller territories, which draw inspiration from third parties – the novel by Colin Niel, a crime writer who also appears briefly in the film – but remain faithful to those slightly odd atmospheres of Molliano cinema, accentuated by the hot-cold contrast and by a choral dimension which, even if in a somewhat artificial way, feeds the mechanism of existential restlessness. A mechanism that finds its human faces in the interpretations of leading names in contemporary French cinema, including Denis Menochet, Laure Calamy, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Damien Bonnard. They contribute decisively to the charm of an enigma that is among the most interesting transalpine proposals currently in the room, a genre exercise that deserves the collective vision in the dark to be transported to another world, similar to ours but at the same time recognizable by its director. .


We close the review of Only the Animals by reiterating how it is a French thriller that explores the conventions of the genre in the snow and under the scorching sun, with a remarkable ensemble cast.

Because we like it

  • The actors are all good and contribute to the unique atmosphere of the film.
  • The choral structure and the snow / sun contrast fuel the fascination of the genre exercise.

What’s wrong

  • Some steps are a bit contrived.

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