Documentary Week: The Wolfpack (2015) Review

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The Wolfpack is an intriguing movie for any film fan. The opening sequences sees the titular brothers recreating key scenes from Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and while it is bizarre witnessing these recreations, you can’t help but be compelled by the scene for scene, shot for shot remake you are watching. It is the perfect taster of a life a lot less than ordinary.

The movie is about the Angulo brothers: six kids who have been practically shut-away by their parents since birth. They have very little experience of the outside world, are home-schooled and get their taste of the everyday by watching (and in some cases recreating) movies. Whether by accident or design, this movie then follows the “coming-out” of these teenagers as they start to emerge into the world they know so little about.

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The film recreations are impressive

It is worth reading or knowing a little about the movie before you watch it because so little of it is really explained. It lacks any narration or helpful direction and you as the viewer are thrown into the Angulo world, invited to see their strange existence which they seem perfectly happy with.

There is a compelling story here. The boys exist almost entirely without supervision. They are allowed to watch and recreate movies way above their age-range and practically have free-reign of the house to shoot their home-movie recreations. One scene even sees them set a fire in their house to use during a Halloween “ceremony.” Strange only just scratches the surface of the documentary’s subjects.

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The film skims the surface of the movie-makers

It also feels like documentary director Crystal Moselle isn’t sure what she is getting from the boys or really wants from the documentary. There isn’t any clear purpose to her questions other than to find out about their bizarre life but in some cases this aspect isn’t investigated enough.

The fact that they haven’t seen the outside world in the “normal” way is the backbone of the documentary but the reasons go un-discussed. Somewhere in the background is the Father of the family: a man who clearly had a hand in the “trapping” of these boys but other than brief conversations with him and strange recollections about him, the man’s motives and actions are never really discovered.

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There is more to explore about their unusual upbringing

It means that when you look at the movie in full, it feels quiet shallow. The hook of the story remains the only subject of the film. Six brothers making home videos and recreations of movies is impressive but that is a starting point, not the whole show and unfortunately Moselle never gets to go beyond that.

Overall, The Wolfpack is lacking something. There is no doubt that the Angulo family’s story is one waiting to be told but the movie doesn’t seem to do much more than skim the surface. More is needed, especially once questions about their upbringing come to the forefront.

Rating – 2

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

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An interesting story but one which lacks a punch

 

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