Animals

Writer-star David Dastmalchian based this gritty local drama on his own experience as a homeless heroin addict, which might explain why it feels so authoritative in many of its details. The film is most compelling when it focuses on the daily hustle of scoring money and drugs, following the protagonist and his girlfriend (Kim Shaw) as they carry out various scams; these range from the petty to the frighteningly reckless, depending on how desperate they feel on any given day. The couple’s doomed romance feels familiar from numerous other films about addiction, and the movie is downright bad whenever it aspires to visual poetry. The title refers to the couple’s affection for animals they see at the Lincoln Park Zoo, an unnecessarily precious touch that adds nothing to our understanding of the characters. Collin Schiffli directed.