It was one of the most daring art heists in US history. Back in 2003, a collection of rare books from Transylvania University’s library were stolen – a loot that was valued at an eye-watering $10 million.
The story of how those books were snatched by four students is the inspiration for Bart Layton’s new thriller, American Animals.
“I wanted to explore why this group of educated young men from comfortable backgrounds would go through with a crime like this in the first place,” says Layton.
At the centre of the heist is the impulsive Warren (Evan Peters) and his childhood friend Spencer (Barry Keoghan).
Stifled by their day-to-day lives and desperate for their slice of the American Dream, the duo hatch a plot to infiltrate the library, flog the books on the black market and make a fortune so they can escape the looming threat of mediocrity.
Aided by budding accountant Eric (Jared Abrahamson) and gym fanatic Chas (Blake Jenner), the four put their plan into action.
What takes this way beyond your typical heist movie is the way Layton weaves the true story into the narrative.
Layton’s last film was the brilliant true-crime documentary The Imposter; in American Animals, he cuts between the dramatised heist and the real testimonies from the men who actually pulled it off.
The result is a gripping thriller exploring the reckless motives of the four students who dared to dream and crossed a line they could never return from.
Brilliantly cast, the film is anchored by Peters (X Men: Apocalypse), who nails his character’s volatile tendencies and becomes more unstable as the odds are raised.
And Keoghan (Dunkirk) is sensitive and cautious, though unable to see the larger picture looming on the horizon. Bold and brazen with compelling stakes and powerful performances, this is a heist film like no other.
See American Animals for free
Fancy seeing American Animals before it hits UK cinemas nationwide on Friday 7 September? Course you do.
We have eight free screenings to choose from on Tuesday 4 September at these VUE venues: Birmingham VUE, Edinburgh Omni VUE, Finchley Road O2 VUE, Gateshead VUE, Glasgow Fort VUE, Leeds The Light VUE, Manchester Printworks VUE and Piccadilly Circus VUE.
Make sure you arrive at your venue at 6pm for a 6.30pm start.
Click here to claim your tickets and then enter the promotional code CFXMQ6.