Arts and Entertainment

Film Review: “The Wolfpack”

Annie Schwartz

Arts & Entertainment Editor

Wolfpack_film_poster

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

It was just your average day when Crystal Moselle spotted an odd group of teenagers wandering the streets of New York City. There were six of them, each dressed in black suits and Wayfarers straight out of Reservoir Dogs, along with midnight-colored manes of waist-length hair.

Intrigued, Moselle approached them, beginning what would become a deep friendship. The obvious questions came to Moselle’s mind: Who were these kids, and what were they doing traipsing around like a pack of city slickers? Moselle would soon come to find that these boys were indeed a unique bunch growing up in the strangest of circumstances.

The six Angulo brothers live in Seward Park on the Lower East Side. Along with their sister, they were homeschooled by their mother, Susanne, in a four-bedroom apartment. For more than a decade, the siblings and Susanne remained under the sharp gaze of Oscar, the neurotic patriarch who has dedicated his life to the teachings of Hare Krishna. During this time, Oscar forbids his family from leaving the apartment except for once or twice a year.

As Moselle and the Angulos grow closer, they bond over their shared interest of film. Moselle, a graduate of New York’s School of Visual Art, is amazed by the brothers’ wealth of knowledge. Inspired by Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, and the like, the siblings replicate their favorite movies, transcribing the script by hand and crafting elaborate costumes. Literally locked away from society, film opens a door to the rest of the world. It stimulates their imaginations, allowing them to escape from the dysfunction of their home life.

The siblings’ potential is hampered by extreme isolation until one of the eldest brothers defies his father’s oppression, escaping from the apartment to explore Manhattan on his own. Sparking a pivotal change in power dynamics, the other brothers follow suit, entering a society that they had been banned from for the majority of their lives. Unfortunately, the movies that had defined the boys’ lives for so long provide only a caricature of the real world as they face the coming challenges of adapting to society.

The Wolfpack proves that sometimes reality is far stranger than fiction. As Moselle’s directorial debut of a feature film, it is a surprisingly honest portrayal of such a complex and at times guarded family. This film is far from any documentary I’ve ever seen, although some have compared it to Grey Gardens. Stylistically, Moselle’s simple camerawork complements the complexity of the storyline. She maintains an appropriate distance between herself and the family as to not impede on their daily lives. While there are many times where Moselle could paint a more negative portrait of her subjects, she restrains herself, creating a piece of work that is unbiased and fairly neutral.

The accolades that The Wolfpack has received are a testament to its excellence. The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was chosen to be the Closing Night film at the Maryland Film Festival. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 84% approval rating.

Do not wait to see this film on Netflix. The Wolfpack makes for a great intimate theater experience. Be prepared for an audience reaction of true bewilderment following a story that is most definitely worth the price of a movie ticket.

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