Plot via Sundance:
Heavily pregnant Itto looks forward to a day of peace and quiet when she gets her affluent household mostly to herself after her husband, Amine, goes away on business. She’s quickly lost sight of her modest origins and has adapted to her new family’s detached opulence. But when a mysterious state of emergency is declared nationwide, Itto struggles to find help; meanwhile, increasingly ominous events and strange weather phenomena suggest a supernatural presence is nearing. While frantically searching for a way back to Amine, Itto unexpectedly finds emancipation and the possibility of solace in a new world order.
In arresting visuals it blends social and religious commentary with a CGI fantasy story. It’s an odd version of a Roland Emmerich disaster film mixed with the mythic, enigmatic style and storytelling of Terence Malick.
Animalia doesn’t end with the typical disaster film big bang, but a mystical whimper vision. It’s flips the apocalyptic genre sideways.
It follows a very pregnant young woman, Itto (photogenic newcomer Oumaïma Barid), as she’s stranded from her new husband, Amine (Mehdi Dehbi), while a mysterious supernatural catastrophe occurs right outside their country estate.
Mixing Muslim prayers with signs of extraterrestrial life, it attempts to show a transcendental experience where humans and animals and aliens all seem to share some kind of common strain of the universe. It’s trying to be a higher version of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Sprinkled in is a social commentary on the place of woman, particularly pregnant woman, in a Muslim society.
Animalia gets a 3 out of 5, or a B
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
FRENCH, ARABIC, BERBER