Animus is written and directed by Mark J. Blackman, who also made the film Neon recently reviewed here at Film Carnage, which you can read right here. The film follows a moment between a young couple, Sienna (Katie Goldfinch) and Elliot (Johnny Sachon) reunited after years apart but under quietly tragic circumstances.
As the film fades in there are several things that make an immediate impression, the modest score, the slightly desaturated image and the choice of shooting to give a closer perspective; each of these aspects instantly creates an atmosphere of emotional depth. The second that Sienna and Elliot first lock eyes with each other, there’s already an air of tension and that only becomes stronger once they’re actually together, which is where the choices just mentioned come into play, the camera won’t allow you to escape that tension, you’re trapped in this intimate, somewhat resentful conversation. The mood does gradually change into something more nostalgic but remains under the shadow of the unfortunate situation.
There’s a quiet intensity to the first half of the film, a feeling of familiarity but also distance and that’s where the next well made choices of the film become apparent, its actors. Goldfinch and Sachon perfectly portray a chemistry that’s reminiscent of any two people once close but grown apart, it’s still there but has bittered over time. It’s engrossing to watch the two of them, it could turn sour or affectionate at any moment. Their performances give an emotional strength while being appropriately subdued to reflect the unfortunate circumstances for their meeting again. All of which is improved even more by how natural the actors feel, emotional situations can often appear forced but in this case it’s extremely convincing and real.
The story is compelling, it’s superbly shot and edited, brilliantly acted and a genuinely powerful 11 minutes. The whole team have clearly put incredible effort into making this film and it shows. It’s also proof that the style we’ve seen from Mark J. Blackman in Neon goes beyond one film or one genre, although both films show a definite ability to instil strong emotion into his films.
Watch the trailer here and find out more here