Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Wolfpack (opens in Cleveland June 19th at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[THE WOLFPACK opens in Cleveland on Friday June 19th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Talk about your overprotective parents. In THE WOLFPACK, we meet the Angulo siblings, six brothers and one sister. For most of their lives, their parents kept them locked inside their apartment on Manhattan’s lower east side. Mom explains that she wanted the kids to grow up amid open fields and forests in some sort of idealized Midwestern paradise similar to the small town she had grown up in. Instead they wound up living in Instead they wound up in an alien urban landscape populated by people she and her husband viewed as dangerous, so they did their best to keep their kids sheltered from this reality, even homeschooling them.

In lieu of reality, the kids live vicariously through movies. Favorites include the works of Quentin Tarrantino (particularly RESERVOIR DOGS) and Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN films, which they reenact using elaborate props and costumes. As they relate their story, dad begins to look less like a frightened, concerned parent and more like a third rate cult leader wannabe who exerted complete and total control over his family. Aside from the undeniable neglect and mental/emotional abuse of the kids, it’s strongly implied that mom was physically abused, too.

Eventually the oldest brother has enough and walks out the door to discover the real world for himself. Soon the rest of the kids join him, and by chance they met filmmaker Crystal Moselle, who filmed this fascinating portrait of the family. Moselle can occasionally be heard asking questions, but for the most part keeps out of the way. Sure it feels a bit like we're gawkers at a freak show at times, but one senses no judgment or mockery of the siblings from Moselle. She’s doesn’t even go out of her way to paint their father in a bad light, either (not that he needs much help in that regard).  And as interesting as it is to see the transformation of the siblings as they become more accustomed to the outside world, it’s just as fascinating to watch how their mom starts to come to life as her husband’s influence fades, culminating in the film’s hopeful final shot. 3 out of 4 stars.

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