Andrea James

Review: Living Things (Eric Shapiro, 2014)


by Mat Viola

June 12, 2014

Living Things consists of a dinner-table debate between a vegan and a meat-eater. That’s it: just two people sitting down to dinner and debating the morality of eating animals. Never having been a fan of two-handers, I had my doubts about the film, but because its subject matter interests me, I decided to give it a look. To my surprise it wasn’t half bad. Despite having its share of overwritten dialogue, the film is watchable because of the intense interplay between the two characters, whose increasingly malicious verbal sparring steadily escalates, then spins out of control and, finally, explodes into physical violence.

The acting too is better than expected, especially that of Ben Siegler as Leo, a macho meat-muncher whose incipient rage bubbles under the surface of his barbed comments, sarcastic retorts, mocking tone and unwavering eye contact. Siegler brings considerable intensity to the role, so much so that he overmatches Rhoda Jordan, who plays Leo’s vegan daughter-in-law, Rhona.

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