One has to wonder what compels a man to decide to write and direct a film about a guy having sex with a sheep. Obviously, this wasn’t just a job for the money, as director Sergio Bizzio wrote it as well. You’d think it’d be for the shock factor, a means of getting his directorial debut a lot of attention. And in a lot of ways, you’d be right. But I bet you’d be surprised to hear Animalada, the film in question, is actually wickedly funny and not nearly as trashy or offensive as you’d think. That is if you’re not offended by a little extra-marital sheep lovin’.
Alberto and his wife Natalie are taking their yearly two month vacation on their ranch, where they basically live the high life. They have people to wait on them, it’s quiet, and they’re basically bored out of their minds. It doesn’t help matters that the couple seems to just coexist with one another, showing little affection to each other. The most exciting thing to happen to Alberto since their arrival is seeing a sheep break from the pack and stare at him through the patio window. Alberto takes this as a sign that the sheep is special, so the next day when his ranchers are loading up the flock to take to the market, he tells them to leave her behind.
Alberto takes the sheep into the barn and sets things up nicely for her, giving her a blanket, a small radio to listen to, and christening her with the name Fanny. Before long, Alberto finds himself completely in love with Fanny, and the relationship is consummated. His wife doesn’t seem to suspect a thing (outside of the odd smell her husband is carrying around these days), but the ranchers, out at a local bar attempting to hook up, think something is very odd with Alberto giving special care to one particular sheep. One of the men, Miranda, doesn’t score and finds his way back to the ranch, figuring a sheep might be just what the doctor ordered. Meanwhile, Alberto’s wife Natalie has gone off to a neighbor’s house for the evening, so Alberto is all set for quality time with his beloved. What he finds out in the barn however is Miranda having his way with Fanny, and enraged, kills the man. Too bad for Alberto that his wife has just returned from the neighbors and witnesses the entire act (including Alberto “consoling” his love). Natalie ends up at her children’s house, and once the story is relayed, they believe their mother is having a nervous breakdown and commit her to the asylum. Alberto takes this news in stride; more private time with Fanny! Unfortunately, his meddling children are coming to stay with him, which only leads to more craziness.
Having such a perverse sense of humor myself, Animalada meshed pretty well with my sensibilities. While others would more than likely scoff at the idea of a film about a man in a serious relationship with his sheep, I took it all in stride, enjoying it for what it was. I was pleasantly surprised that the flick wasn’t about simply jolting the audience with woolen debauchery. That isn’t to say that the scenes of bestial coitus weren’t a wee bit uncomfortable to watch. Even though most of it is played out with close-ups of a sweaty guys pumping and the sheep looking bored as hell, the thought of the entire thing leaves an odd feeling, one where I honestly felt like looking around to make sure no one was in viewing distance of the screen; I’m pretty sure my worth would have dropped a few notches in some peoples eyes if they had been. Animalada certainly proves that sometimes the imagination is a much more effective device than showing everything in full.
Amidst all the humor (watching Alberto get jealous of a ram that has eyes for Fanny is great), there’s an odd sense of tenderness here too. Sure, it’s sick, but all Alberto wants to do is follow his heart and be with his true love, yet everything and everyone seems to want to stand in his way. Set this film in the 1930s, swap Fanny out for a black woman, and you could almost make the same film, albeit with a much more serious tone. The film itself gets a bit more serious as it moves along in regards to the position Alberto is putting his family in, which includes prison, murder, and more. The very end of the film hinges on horror, with a pretty effective stalk-and-slash atmosphere, the sound of hooves replacing that of footsteps. Good stuff!
Even though Animalada is ultimately uneven, attempting to juggle serious, comedic, and dark tones all at once leading to mixed results, when all is said and done the film is unique enough and an experience unlike any other, which definitely makes it worthy of checking out. If you never thought you’d run across a film with a guy fucking a sheep that was actually good, Animalada is here to prove you wrong. Just make sure your loved ones don’t catch you indulging in this sweet, furry romance.
Synapse Films continues to release niche films that most others wouldn’t touch, and we should all be pretty thankful for them taking such risks. Animalada is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks quite good. Colors look natural and do the rural feel of the film proud, and nighttime scenes are represented equally strong. The included Dolby Digital 2.0 track is free of any hiss and distortion, and while not remarkable in the least, works fine in the context of this quaint little film. The optional English subtitles are free of any errors, which isn’t surprising from Synapse. The only extra included is a trailer for the film. I would have loved to have seen some more behind the scenes stuff, as the sheep is a great little actress and trained wonderfully, but this interesting bit of cinema alone is worth the reduced asking price (about $14 at most online retailers).
Please feel free to discuss "Animalada" here, in our forums!