The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

‘Female Human Animal’ is a mesmerizing tale of art and obsession

Written by: Adriana Gomez-Weston, CC2K Staff Writer

As another Valentine’s Day passes, what films pique your fancy? Are you a fan of romantic comedies, weepy dramas, or erotic thrillers? This year I can say that instead of focusing on the usual comedic, sappy fare, but the psychological and mystical. There are many films out there that explore the themes of art and obsession, but few are as unique as Female Human Animal. The film is the brainchild of director Josh Appignanesi, and novelist Chloe Aridjis. Shot in the real contemporary art world, the film follows Aridjis (as herself) as she becomes enchanted by a mysterious stranger (Marc Hoseman).

Aridjis’ character is disenfranchised, and looking for something more. Lacking any intimacy in her life, Aridjis longs for a relationship. While curating an exhibition for surrealist Leonora Carrington, Aridjis discovers a brooding, but intriguing man. Is he harmless, or is he dangerous? You’ll have to see to find out. Shortly after the first encounter, Aridjis becomes obsessed with him, pursuing him until they finally unite. The relationship appears to be a dream at first, but nothing is really as it seems. Even though Aridjis is the one doing the pursuing, is she the one really being pursued?

Female Human Animal teeters between documentary and psychological thriller. The film interlaces actual footage from Aridjis’ work on the Carrington Tate exhibition, and bits of dramatic storylines. Shot entirely on an eighties video camera, the film has a found footage feel. Because of its grainy, retro quality, Female Human Animal is an intimate experience that follows its leading lady on her quest for fulfillment. Outside its documentary segments, Female Human Animal feels like dream. In her first feature film, Chloe Aridjis, is a flawed but sympathetic protagonist. Stoic the majority of the film, Aridjis’ quiet power elevates the film.

The biggest achievement of Female Human Animal, is its dedication to its inspiration, Leonora Carrington. Female Human Animal embodies Carrington’s spirit in its exploration of sexual identity, the female gaze, and its skewed perception of reality. Throughout her career, Carrington celebrated femininity and personal freedom. Female Human Animal does the same. The film bridges the gap between the real and the surreal, and the liberated and the imprisoned. It is the very definition of “Life imitates art.”

Female Human Animal debuted in New York City on February 12th. It will make its West Coast debut in Los Angeles on February 18th. The film will also be available soon on MUBI.