All the Little Animals (1998)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 3, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Mike Cummings

This bizarre but highly original film teaches an important lesson: Be nice to the next one down in the food chain or Mother Nature will swallow your Rolls Royce. On the surface, the production is a be-kind-to-animals homily in which a brain-damaged runaway youth and an eccentric recluse roam England's Cornwall countryside to bury animals killed by speeding cars and lorries. But beneath the surface the film is a plea for advancing civilization to slow down long enough to consider the meaning of existence, and reflect on the humanizing power of love. The film is generally good and the acting strong. Christian Bale portrays a childlike 24-year-old named Bobby who never fully recovered from a car accident that arrested his mental development at an early age. John Hurt is his eremitic friend, Mr. Summers, a forest dweller who abandoned the unfeeling workaday world after murdering his oppressive wife and stealing a fortune from the bank that employed him. Though both characters are damaged goods, they combine to make a whole, functioning man with sense enough to realize what is really important in life. Daniel Benzali is nothing short of terrifying as the stepfather who abuses Bobby, cheats him out of his inheritance, and then tries to run him down with his black Rolls Royce. Because the script makes no attempt to explain why Benzali's character is so cruel and vengeful, he functions mainly as a symbol of evil in a corrupt world. When he invades the beautiful Cornwall back country to vent his wrath on Bobby, he trespasses in paradise, and the film lurches toward its suspenseful climax.