Magazine article Screen International

'The Wolfpack': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'The Wolfpack': Review

Article excerpt

Dir: Crystal Moselle. USA. 2015. 90 mins.

There are documentaries which raise questions about their themes and subjects, and others which raise questions about their methods. The reason The Wolfpack is so fascinating, and at times so disturbing, is because it keeps us teetering uneasily between empathy for a remarkable human drama and the suspicion that we're not getting the whole truth, let alone nothing but the truth.

The story is one any young documentary-maker would trade their Maysles brothers box-set to stumble on. Seven strikingly handsome yet also unsettlingly intense siblings ranging in age (we guess) from their early teens to their mid-twenties have grown up in near-seclusion in a City Housing Authority apartment in New York's Lower East Side, being home-schooled and rarely venturing outside. This pressure-cooker environment, combined with a well-stocked home DVD and VHS library, has prompted them to take refuge in play-acting, but of a very special kind: they re-enact their favourite movies – like Reservoir Dogs – scene by scene, doing the voices and making all the costumes and props out of whatever they can get their hands on.

Weird? You bet. Weird and original enough to propel this feature-length documentary – picked up by Magnolia shortly after its Sundance debut – to a theatrical run, one that will be fuelled also, for film buffs, by the sheer inventiveness of the Angulo clan's cinematic re-imaginings, by the way they use movies (including The Dark Knight Rises, re-enacted with costumes made from yoga mats) as a kind of secret language.

The oddness of this hothouse world is compounded by a growing sense of menace in the apartment where most of the documentary is filmed – a menace that centres on Oscar, the father, a Peruvian follower of Hare Krisna (hence the kids' Hindu-deity names), who met his children's mother when she was on the Machu Picchu hippy trail and who seems to tyrannise over the roost from behind a closed door. His wife, Susanne, shows some of the classic signs of the dependent victim of domestic abuse – something more than hinted at in the interviews with her and her boys that provide the film's backbone (Vishnu, the single girl among the seven siblings, hardly opens her mouth). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.