The Wolfpack (2015)
This documentary tells the fascinating and bizarre story of the Angulo family. Living in an apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers were kept separated from society by an overprotective father. It’s not that they were unaware of the outside world, or even that they NEVER went out of the apartment, but trips were limited to only a few a year (although at least one year saw the boys stay indoors for the whole year). As well as being home-schooled by their mother, the boys fill up a lot of their time with movies. When not watching films they end up filming their own recreations. From Reservoir Dogs to Pulp Fiction to The Dark Knight and more, the boys put on some pitch-perfect recreations of their favourites, with the zero budget being compensated for by imagination and some great impressions.
Directed by Crystal Moselle, The Wolfpack is unlike anything else you’re likely to see this year. And the first thing that springs to mind when you first see the footage shot by the brothers is just how good, and dedicated, they are. Any moments featuring translated film scenes end up being hugely enjoyable. And it’s even fascinating to listen to the conversations that the brothers have with one another, hearing lines of speech come out not as something natural, but rather seeming like a soundbite snatched out of some script.
The biggest problem with The Wolfpack is that nothing is really explored fully enough. While the brothers discuss their lives, and their tense relationship with the father who held the key to the exit door for so many years, they don’t get to truly open up. One or two scenes hint at much deeper emotions waiting to spill out, but either Moselle is unable to ask the right questions or the brothers are far too determined to not reveal more than they wish to.
Even finding out how the director first came into contact with the boys would have been an interesting addition to the story. Viewers are told of the time that one brother finally broke free, and how that seemed to kickstart a chain of events that led to them all enjoying some more time outdoors, but it’s only sketched out in broad strokes, when some details would have been much appreciated.
Be warned, however, that this does get bleak at times. When I first heard of the film I imagined watching a group of lads jumping around and re-enacting favourite bits from their favourite movies. I didn’t even think about the extenuating circumstances, and how that would shine through in the way that these boys discuss, and see, the world around them. The highs and lows make everything more interesting, but a surprising lack of depth keeps it from being as interesting as it could be.
The Wolfpack was screened at EIFF 2015.
DIRECTOR: CRYSTAL MOSELLE
STARS: THE ANGULO FAMILY
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX