'American Animals' Featurette Focuses On The True Story That Inspired The Film

American Animals tells the true story of one of the most audacious art heists in U.S. history. When it came time to make the film, director Bart Layton decided to tackle the real story head-on by involving the actual people involved. A new American Animals featurette examines the real individuals and the true story behind the movie.

American Animals Featurette 

American Animals director Bart Layton comes from a documentary background – he helmed the excellent doc Imposter. Rather than leave his documentary skills behind when making the narrative film American Animals, Layton decided to involve the real individuals that inspired the story. In his review of the film, /Film's Ben Pearson said: "Occasionally, Layton intercuts commentary from the real versions of these guys, showcasing the conflicted memories of shared experiences and playing with cinematic form along the way. (A scarf changes colors in front of our eyes and a shady contact totally changes appearance as the real guys reveal that they remember these moments differently.)"

I've been a bit unimpressed with everything I've seen regarding American Animals, but this featurette might have just sold me on the movie. In the video, Layton talks about how important it was to involve the real individuals in the process of the film. We get to see the actors playing the people edited together with footage of the actual people, and it's both jarring and fascinating to witness. If the film itself is anything like this video, I'm in. This entire scenario reminds me – in an indirect way – of American Splendor. That particular 2003 film featured Paul Giamatti as comic book writer Harvey Pekar, while also having Pekar show up throughout the film playing himself.

American Animals, starring Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd and Udo Kier, opens June 1, 2018.

The film centers around two friends from the middle-class suburbs of Lexington, Kentucky. Spencer (Barry Keoghan), is determined to become an artist but feels he lacks the essential ingredient that unites all great artists – suffering. His closest friend, Warren (Evan Peters), has also been raised to believe that his life will be special, and that he will be unique in some way. But as they leave the suburbs for universities in the same town, the realities of adult life begin to dawn on them and with that, the realization that their lives may in fact never be important or special in any way. Determined to live lives that are out of the ordinary, they plan the brazen theft of some of the world's most valuable books from the special collections room of Spencer's college Library. Enlisting two more friends, accounting major Eric (Jared Abrahamson) and fitness fanatic Chas (Blake Jenner), and taking their cues from heist movies, the gang meticulously plots the theft and subsequent fence of the stolen artworks. Although some of the group begin to have second thoughts, they discover that the plan has seemingly taken on a life of its own.