Winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2015 for best documentary, new film The Wolfpack from director Crystal Moselle charts the unconventional upbringing of six brothers who grew up isolated from American society.
The Angulo brothers have spent the past seventeen years of their collective upbringing locked away under their father's control. Imagining himself a deity reincarnate and resenting becoming a 'slave to American consumerism' their father, a trekker from Macchu Picchu, chose to raise his children as his own indigenous tribe.
The Wolfpack, film review ★★★★★
He and his wife, a hippie from the Mid-West, gave all their children Sanskrit names and home-schooled them, with minimal access to the outside world. All that the children learnt about society came from their mother and, later, from the movies – with which they became obsessed.
An indigenous tribe in the heart of Manhattan
You might expect this 'tribe' to consist of children growing up somewhere in Middle America, hundreds of miles from civilisation – but the Angulo brothers grew up in a high-storey apartment – on Manhattan's densely populated Lower East Side. The constraints put on them were unparalleled. They were quiet, secretive, never to trust anyone, to speak to or even to look directly at another human being.
Raised not by wolves, but by Hollywood
But though this portrait could have remained a disturbing tale of abuse, hypocrisy and paranoia, Moselle's film is also a tribute to creativity in resourcefulness. For the Angulo boys had one means of escapism and access to the outside world: film. The brothers watched movies obsessively, often meticulously transcribing the scripts); making elaborate costumes and props and re-creating their favourite films verbatim (Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are firm favourites). Films inform their perception of the world – the way they choose to dress, talk, interact.
Double-edged reflection of the formative power of film
The Wolfpack opens a door to dozens of troubling questions. A purist and disturbing social experiment, their upbringing also explores the potential that the American film industry has to shape development. Whether films can, for these long-suffering children, hold up a sufficient mirror to reality when resources elsewhere are dangerously limited, is a question The Wolfpack leaves unanswered.
Disturbingly ironic comment on American libertarianism
Moselle's film is littered with irony, as the Angulos' father describes Manhattan as a 'prison' – all the while policing his children's every move. Moselle discovers Manhattan's un-contacted tribe – at the very moment that they have begun to push the boundaries and question their compulsion to exist in a fictive world. A shattering exploration of the effects of forced agoraphobia and confinement, The Wolfpack is a must-watch, intensely personal, coming-of-age tragedy.
|What||The Wolfpack movie review: stirring tale of creativity engendered by abuse|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
21 Aug 15 – 30 Sep 15, Times vary.
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to The Wolfpack official website.|