As strange as it may be to the uninitiated, Are We Not Cats by Writer/Director Xander Robin is disturbingly engaging. Enjoying its Australian premiere and recommended for an 18 plus audience, this 78-minute official selection of the Venice Film Festival trucks along at a good pace, coupled with a great soundtrack.
Eliezer is a bit of an awkward loner but essentially a nice guy. When in a short space of time he loses his girlfriend, his job and the security of his parents and their home when they move away to Arizona, he finds himself truly aimless, going nowhere fast. Living in the back of a truck given to him by his father, he meets Anya. Unavailable and cool, she shares the same unusual habit as him. They both love eating hair. This makes for an unconventional love story, between two souls in sync.
The beat of the introductory soundtrack is almost like a clue to the unusual experience that's about to unfold. The harsh winter scenes and harrowing moments Eli has gives support to the sensation of the uncomfortable world he lives in. Actor Michael Patrick Nicholson nails it as Eli and his credible performance gives you the exact sensory response you're meant to have.
There are scenes of what amounts to as 'body horror' in the film, I watched through scrunched eyes and a grimace on my face. Not because they were over the top in its presentation, but because the sensation was so real, you could almost taste it. You're going to feel a little uncomfortable, a little grossed out and you're going to walk out wondering what you just experienced. Yet, it'll keep you in the moment, still thinking and talking about it, long after the credits have rolled. A film not to be shirked because it's too good for that, but to be fascinated by for its originality and little surprises not mentioned here, so you can live through it yourself.
Head to the website for other tasty offerings, that may not be as hairy, at the American Essentials Film Festival 2017.