High school student, Mati (Sophie Stockinger) is about to graduate and leave the rural countryside for the university of Vienna. From the very beginning, we are introduced to Mati’s world, which includes her close and only group of friends – a ‘gang’ of three male students. Mati is a fundamental and vital part of the group – she’s the best one at riding the motorcycle. We see her constantly hanging out with them – either at the local bar or at the motocross sandlot – often causing trouble or even bullying/attacking her female classmates.
We come across a number of people. Each character represses their sexuality and their feelings in a different way. It’s not only Mati, who seems to haven’t yet come to terms with her sexuality – she gradually realises her feelings for her classmate Carla (Julia Franz Richter). Mati’s father hasn’t yet come out, either, despite the many extramarital dalliances with men. Mati’s mother finds out about her husband’s secret and makes the decision to turn a blind eye instead. She chooses to repress her feelings instead of dealing with the unhappy marriage.
Katharina Mückstein’s second feature film is very topical. It addresses many contemporary issues, such as sexual diversity, gender identity, violence and bullying.
The feeling of belonging and inclusion is even stronger and more necessary when living in a small community. For Mati – to be part of the gang means that she has to behave in a certain way, which includes often verbally attacking her female classmates or making a mess in the supermarket where Carla works. However – unlike her parents opt to forge a middle-class normality normality – Mati makes a very brave decision.
The film ends with some of the main characters singing the titular Italian song L’Animale. This final sequence is a reflection of the emotional struggles and dilemmas the protagonists face. The contrast between Mati and her family crystal-clear, and an upbeat note leaves audiences feeling positive about our future!
L’Animale is available to view online during the entire month of December with ArteKino. Just click here for more information.