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The Animal Project cast (left to right) Hannah Cheesman, Jessica Greco, Johnathan Sousa, Jacob Switzer, Joey Klein, Emmanuel Kabongo, Aaron Poole, Sarena Parmar.

John Gundy/Mongrel Media

2 out of 4 stars

Written by
Ingrid Veninger
Directed by
Ingrid Veninger
Starring
Aaron Poole, Jacob Switzer
Classification
PG
Country
USA
Language
English

After her intimate mother-daughter portrait i am a good person/i am a bad person, Toronto-based DIY director/actor/writer/producer Ingrid Veninger goes bigger, though not necessarily better, with her multinarrative feature The Animal Project.

Widower Leo (Aaron Poole), while struggling to understand his teenage son (convincingly played by Veninger's own offspring, Jacob Switzer), unintentionally leads his "chorus line of misfits" acting troupe on a journey of self-discovery.

Like Veninger's other films, Animal resonates with an intensely personal tone: Veninger, using Leo as a stand-in, explores the value of artistic pursuit and what it means to be a good parent, friend, lover.

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At times, Animal strikes a compelling, raw quality, but this is largely lost due to the overwritten script and sprawling, though lovingly rendered, cast of characters. It's not a failed project, but a flawed one.

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