Animals in Love Laurent Charbonnier

You might think watching coupled animals court each other for 85 minutes could be a little much without any human involvement but if you have any interest in wildlife and how nature works behind our backs, well, Animals in Love is one of the more stimulating nature documentaries out there. I mean, how often do you get to see a peacock try to mack on another peacock? Like any documentary observing the natural world, one of the movie’s strengths is in exposing the viewer to not only unknown behaviour but also unfamiliar creatures, which there are plenty of. For most animals, grooming is an important first step, as is foreplay, which most often looks like combat: giraffes slap each other on the ass with their heads, crabs claw each other, zebras scuffle and caribou go to war with their antlers. But things soften up. Mountain goats try to French kiss, dragonflies contort their bodies during sex, which amazingly form a heart shape, and well, there’s a kangaroo threesome, wait, foursome. Of course, it’s the primates that resemble us most physically, which also includes their activities: the smooching, the petting the, er, penetration. That isn’t to say the footage all of a sudden switches to some bad acting and a wah-wah-heavy soundtrack but the love isn’t limited to just the adult kind. We also see the affection of a mother duck guiding her ducklings through a stream, as well as a doe clean off her baby after birth and a wee elephant who just can’t get up on its own. I suppose what is most refreshing about Animals in Love, which even the BBC’s marvellous natural history docs can’t seem to avoid, is giving us such intimate and enriching footage without having to see any casualties. Sometimes we need to leave some of that on the cutting room floor. (Seville)