“The Animal Kingdom” is a sci-fi drama film produced by a French-Belgian joint venture and directed by Thomas Cailley. It was released in early October and stars several well-known local actors, including Romain Duris, Paul Kircher, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Tom Mercier, and Billie Blain. The film premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival last May. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to watch it last night at the opening event of the 2023 French Cinema Festival, which will run until November 26 in several big cities in Indonesia.

The plot revolves around humanity being attacked by a strange plague, causing a group of humans to randomly and slowly mutate into animals. This mysterious disease has an unknown origin, and an antidote has yet to be found. In France, a father named François (Duris) and his son, Émile (Kircher), move to a small town on the edge of the forest after François’s wife is afflicted with this peculiar disease. François hopes that the change of environment will reduce the unpleasant incidents they have experienced. However, unbeknownst to his father, Émile undergoes physical changes that gradually distance him from natural human characteristics.

Despite the familiar theme, it’s worth noting that the script for this film was written before the COVID-19 pandemic. While the storyline may seem reminiscent of other science fiction and fantasy/horror films, such as “Viking Wolf” (2022) and “Blood” (2022), and even shares thematic similarities with M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” (2008), “The Animal Kingdom” manages to encapsulate these elements into a compelling disaster drama told through the perspective of a father and his son.

The chemistry between François and Émile is crucial to the plot, providing an effective anchor for the intensity of the drama. The typical relationship dynamics between a father and his son are skillfully portrayed, contributing to the plot’s emotional depth. The narrative takes its time, patiently explaining the physical and mental changes in Émile’s character. As the father becomes entangled in this uncontrollable situation, the plot gains momentum. The film concludes with a touching ending that serves as a lesson for both characters, emphasizing the importance of family. Romain Duris and Paul Kircher deliver impressive performances in their respective roles.

Baca Juga  Sound of Freedom

“The Animal Kingdom” is emphatically not just about family; the title precisely conveys the film’s theme and message. Global outbreaks are presented through scenes in specific locations, supplemented by images through television news. The mutants are convincingly portrayed through impressive visual effects and makeup, representing land, water, and air animals. Notably, the visualization of these mutants is strategically fragmented, teasing the audience with curiosity and horror until the climactic reveal at the end.

The film boasts a solid, unique, and touching script, complemented by captivating makeup and visual effects that reinforce its themes and messages. While numerous films in the past have used environmental issues to illustrate our critical situation, “The Animal Kingdom” stands out by directly satirizing humans who are gradually losing their human side through the metaphor of turning into “animals.” After watching the film, I was reminded of a poignant monologue: “Only if we are them can we truly understand what they feel.” “The Animal Kingdom” teaches us many things about the meaning and significance of true freedom. What a movie!

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Artikel SebelumnyaGadis Kretek
Artikel BerikutnyaBersinema dengan Meragam dalam Gelaran Festival Sinema Prancis ke-25
His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at montasefilm.com and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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