American Animals

Bart Layton came to national attention with his eerie documentary The Imposter, whose talking-head interviews and staged re-creations tell the true story of a French-Algerian man who managed to enter the U.S. by posing as a missing teenager from San Antonio, Texas. This second feature recounts another true crime story but unfolds mainly as a standard docudrama, with occasional onscreen commentary from the real-life subjects. Two sharp young actors, Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) and Evan Peters (FX’s American Horror Story), play Warren Lipka and Spencer Reinhard, college-age friends in Lexington, Kentucky, who masterminded a heist of rare books from the special collections library at local Transylvania University in 2004. Their meticulous preparations begin with typing “how to plan a heist” into Google and continue with watching every heist film ever made, though they manage to overlook the primary lesson of all such films—that something always goes wrong.