Finally, after what seems like years since its initial Sundance screening back in January, The Wolfpack is coming to town. There is a lot of noise behind this film and for it’s first time director Crystal Moselle who came across the central characters while wandering around New York.
After befriending the Pack – 6 brothers between the ages 11-18 – Moselle discovered that they had grown up for the last 14 years in literal confinement in their Lower East Side apartment. Their life and experiences in the real world was something very new and up until that point they had learned about the real world through movies and their mother’s home-schooling. But why?
The first thing to point out is that this is not some abuse saga. But there is an element of brainwashing present here. The Angulo family’s patriarch, a South American immigrant hippy/conspiracist, tries to protect his children from the evils of the city – the drugs, muggings, murders – by keeping his family close in what can only be described as a one family commune. The boys grow long hair, eat lasagne daily, watch endless films and re-enact these same films in some very impressive scenes to escape boredom. Eventually, as they grow older, when films can’t cut it for them any longer, they sense that there is more to the world and are determined to step beyond their familiar four walls.It is an extraordinary scenario. No friends, relationships, no madness. All six boys seems very smart, well adjusted and when the times comes mother and father put up little resistance to their new found wanderlust.
I have to say I felt The Wolfpack was underdone. This is an unusual situation and yet, really, not a lot is done with it. It doesn’t really say much or go anywhere. I was frustrated with the mother here. The father is a babbling loonie but I felt if anyone, Mrs Angulo would hold the answers. But she seems too weak willed. Fragile. As if she had absolutely no choice but to support her husband unequivocally. Other things are hinted at, but what? What is she saying when she said there were probably more rules for her than for them?
In the end, as it turns out, it feels very slight. The Angulo brothers are immediately likeable so it makes it all the more agonizing dwelling on just how much time they’ve wasted. But at least together, they learnt the typical social practices necessary for the wider world for when they do step outside. This isn’t quite Dogtooth.
The ‘Where are they now?’ sequel in ten years time has to happen and maybe it will be a little more revealing. One can hope.