by john davidson for FILMbutton
The first thing you need to know about director Ingrid Veninger’s The Animal Project is that the hugs are free. And if free hugs sound good to you right about now, then seek out this new Canadian Indie gem and start feeling the love yourself. Aaron Poole stars in this adventurous and explorative film about an acting coach trying to get the best out of his students while searching for answers in his own life.
Veninger has created a fine group of characters that reflect every one of us in some way, seeking out love, adventure and growth in a cold Canadian spring. We witness key moments of change in these characters lives, as each one of the ensemble seeks out professional growth through a single group of acquaintances in an acting class.
The mood of the film reflects the optimism and hope of youth, even as the fairly bleak landscape that surrounds these characters tries to push their spirits downward. Standing in the rain, sitting in a derelict acting studio, sleeping on a well-worn sofa never seems to bother any of these folks. It’s like their environment is challenging them to break through despite the obstacles around them. One is left to ponder if these obstacles are in fact a metaphor for the people in their lives, whom we only see briefly, and who may project a negative perspective of their life choices.
Sexy in a very human and humble style, risky in both plot line and temperament, we are treated to some gentle surprises in this film. If you had a hard week at work and want to cheer up, The Animal Project could be some medicine for your soul.
The Animal Project is currently playing in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
To hear an audio interview we did with Ingrid Veninger for her film Modra during the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) please visit this link.
John Davidson is a huge music & film fan who has produced three independent films and now runs sonaBlast! Records Canada.