REVIEW: The Wolfpack

18 04 2015

The WolfpackRiverRun International Film Festival

Crystal Moselle’s documentary “The Wolfpack” begins with her subjects, the Angulo Brothers, reenacting the cult film “Reservoir Dogs.”  As opposed to many directors who rip off Tarantino for artistry or edginess, these budding filmmakers use the material as a means for understanding the world.  Like a real-life Plato’s Cave, the children used the cinema as their window into the reality outside the Lower East Side housing unit to which they were confined.

The story of their lives would make for a fascinating cult horror flick; the Angulo family patriarch is an anarchic Hare Krishna devotee who thinks he can begin an isolated utopia in his tenement block.  Instead, Moselle finds a humanist biography as she documents their forced introduction into society.   “The Wolfpack,” albeit with a somewhat confusingly jumbled timeline, finds moments of beauty and wonder as they interact with the mundane.

At times, though, I found myself wondering if Moselle puts them under the microscope like specimens for examination rather than letting them be relatable humans.  She does dwell an awful lot on the strangeness of their situation (admittedly, a source of great fascination) and squanders a chance to explore a deep philosophical quandary brought to light.  Cinephiles will recognize the ways in which the Angulo brothers internalize and appropriate lines from their favorite movies, but “The Wolfpack” in general lacks the reflexivity to analyze the ways in which fictional realities influence the one in which we live.

What do movies mean for those who have no other way to learn about humanity?  The question still intrigues me, and I hope that other filmmakers will pick up the baton left behind by Moselle and “The Wolfpack.”  Her mission was likely to tell the story of her subjects rather than explore film theory, so not providing an answer to these types of issues does not ruin her documentary.  Nonetheless, I would still love an answer from someone at some time… B2halfstars



One response

18 06 2015
The Vern

I saw trailers of this, and it reminded me of that one flick Dogtooth where that one family was kept in isolation from the world. Im still interested to see this despite that most of your questions went unasnwered

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