- Director: Baptiste Rouveure
- Writer: Baptiste Rouveure
- Stars: Thierry Marcos, Pauline Guilpain, Aurélien Chilarski
Anonymous Animals is a tricky film to pin down. In fact, it’s not a film in the traditional sense, but a collection of vignettes that all merge together in a dreamy and unsettling way. There is no dialogue in the movie: only the noises of animals and the screaming of humans. Writer/director Baptiste Rouveure shows a reality where the balance of power has been reversed and animals are the ones who put humans into cages and pens. The strangest thing about all of this, though, is that the animals are humanoid. They walk on two feet, dress in attire appropriate for their job, drive cars and have an obvious society with it’s own spoken and unspoken rules. Over the course of 64 minutes, we watch a dog, horse, bull, stag and others operate in a world where humans are used for food and entertainment.
A group of people are unloaded off of a truck and forced into a pen at a meat packing plant and all of this is done in the same manner that a herd of cows would be treated. It is done with zero empathy, care or concern. Just like livestock, these are nameless people whom we know nothing of and, therefore, it’s hard to have much concern for them. It’s a morbid curiosity that keeps you glued to the screen, waiting to find out what the bull and horse could possibly have in store for them.
In another story, a man and a dog develop a relationship of sorts and to see the dog treat the man as a peculiarity is unnerving. When we learn what the dog has planned for this human that he is keeping caged up, it is atrocious, but unsurprising. There is a moment within this animal/human relationship that is absolutely heartbreaking on so many different levels and for so many different reasons. All without any dialogue.
One of the reasons Anonymous Animals works so well is the way in which the actors inhabited the animal roles. The dog, in particular, nails the small movements that our canine friends involuntarily make throughout their days. In our lives, we know these animals instinctively by their ticks and sounds and that’s where your sympathy for them comes from. Authentic animal breathing, whining and talking sounds are utilized and it’s a very subtle, but effective tactic that makes you feel acquainted with these unnamed animals. As a fellow human being, you are also naturally concerned for the humans in the story, but not at the same level. Surely, you understand where all of this is going and the statement that is being made.
The cinematography is nothing short of gorgeous and sets the somber tone. Kevin Brunet and Emmanuel Dauchy deserve so much praise for making a nightmare look and feel so intoxicatingly surreal and gorgeous. Coupled with Rouveure‘s keen eye, Anonymous Animals is a film version of a PETA pamphlet that never feels heavy handed, morally superior or even trying to get you to change your current view on animal rights. It’s simply a movie that reimagines life with a different pecking order in the food chain. We experience this world through the lens of the humans, but since they are treated as animals, there are lots of low to the ground visuals and what little we may be able to see through the slats of a crate. Ultimately, it’s the dread of having no idea what our future holds that brings the anxiety. There is no gore or extreme scares to be found here. The horror of Anonymous Animals is all contained within the flippant and casual way one species chooses to treat another.