Most of us are not cats, and more’s the pity. But nor are the characters in Xander Robin’s slacker horror-romance Are We Not Cats, though they have predilections that are vaguely catlike, in the service of a film that has interesting ideas it never fully pursues. The big-eyed Eli (Michael Patrick Nicholson) is having a spectacularly rotten day, having been dumped by his girlfriend, kicked out of his home, and fired from his job in a matter of hours. He descends further into a peculiar underworld when he meets Anya (Chelsea Lopez), a woman who seems to share his idiosyncrasy: eating hair intentionally plucked off one’s own body.
For the record, there are almost no cats in Are We Not Cats, nor are cats ever discussed, and when cats ingest hair it’s a side effect of their compulsive grooming instincts, whereas Anya and Eli do it because they simply can’t not. There’s untapped potential in Are We Not Cats, which feels like it was reverse-engineered from the disturbing imagery of a scene that takes the ingestion of indigestible hair to its logical conclusion, and the movie ends when its third act should be starting. In fairness, though, losing interest in something at a seemingly arbitrary point is about as catlike as it gets.
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.