Movie review: "Animals" a heartbreaking story of junkies in love

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

“Animals” is about the messy intersection of addiction and love. It’s a simple story about two heroin addicts that manages to humanize them without glamorizing them.

Jude (David Dastmalchian) and Bobbie (Kim Shaw) are a young couple living out of their car in Chicago. We don’t know much about their past, but we gather pretty quickly that a) they are very much in love and b) they are very much addicted to heroin.

They subsist on small-time cons like stealing used CDs and wedding presents. A more ominous scam involves Bobbie going to the homes of would-be johns posing as a call girl and ripping them off before the expected sexual acts.

They speak in the fatalistic certainties of being young and in love (“There was nothing before you, Bob. There’s nothing after you.”), but this love can turn nasty when the supply runs low.

First-time director Collin Schiffli is treading cliché-filled waters in movies about addiction — Gus van Sant’s “Drugstore Cowboy” comes to mind more than once — but he also maintains a simple and tragic love story. Watching two junkies in love kick heroin alone is its own kind of heartbreaking, as the desperation of this need is trumped only by their need for each other.

Dastmalchian — who also wrote the script — and Shaw have a rare and lovely chemistry across a range of hot and cold in the lovers’ relationship. “Animals” is a small and simple indie film, but its emotional impact looms large, right down to an ending that got me legitimately choked up.

"Animals"

Opens Friday at the Gateway Film Center

3 ½ stars