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THE WOLFPACK (review)

Wolfpack_film_posterTHE WOLFPACK

Directed by Crystal Moselle 

We all watch movies differently. Some watch them as an escape; some watch them to learn things about the world and themselves. It is indisputable though that movies, on some level, shape who we are, whether it be our views, attitudes or perspectives. Crystal Moselle’s THE WOLFPACK is an intimate documentary on this very idea, the power and influence of movies through the lens of a secluded family that literally grew up on them.

Moselle doesn’t provide much of her own commentary on her subjects but they are undoubtedly fascinating without her help. Brought up in a single apartment in Manhattan by their two parents, the six Angulo brothers – and sister – live a sheltered lifestyle, one where they’re lucky to leave the apartment nine times a year. One year they never left at all. Though the film slowly reveals how it is these two parents could shelter their kids in this way – and how the dad might be physically abusive, and the mother might be just as trapped as they are – the real focus is on these kids, and how they use movies as a way to creatively project their feelings of sadness, anger and hope.

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Moselle captures many wonderful moments of the kids acting out their favourite films (RESERVOIR DOGS or THE DARK KNIGHT, to name a few) from a lavish script they penned themselves, and it’s in these moments we see who these people truly are. One phenomenal scene has a kid dressed as Batman peering over the city he hardly knows, optimistically waiting. It’s an incredibly intimate, nuanced moment.

Unfortunately, THE WOLFPACK peaks with these must-see theatrical sequences. Moselle, feeling slightly limited, tries her best to cohere this into a gripping study on sheltered life and the ways we allow ourselves to be imprisoned, but she never quite gets there. The kids do eventually rebel and test the outside world with her, and it’s adorable and fascinating to see them view the city through the lens of cinema, but ultimately all the elements don’t merge into a larger, more thoughtful point.

3.5 sheep

 

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