The Wolfpack Screen 23 articles

The Wolfpack


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  • Even once she’s inside, Moselle doesn’t quite seem to have figured out how best to tell the story, or even which story she wants to tell. Structurally, the movie has a lurching, shapeless feel in which the exact chronology of events isn’t always clear and, more crucially, the boys (who aren’t identified with title cards until the end credits) never quite emerge as individuals with their own unique personalities.

  • As the film goes on, Moselle's slapdash, borderline indifferent aesthetic shortchanges the more fascinating elements of her subject. The Wolfpack is a great scoop, a high-caliber personal-interest story with designs on the humanistic power of mainstream cinema, but Moselle cobbles her footage together into a shambling narrative that could have just as easily been produced as an extended 60 Minutes segment.

  • The film plays like true-life hybrid of Yorgos Lanthimos’ brilliant Dogtooth and Emma Donoghue’s disturbing novel Room, but it fails to give some basic information about the situation, which may be too bizarre to comprehend but shouldn’t inspire such answerable questions.

  • I still very much enjoyed the film for what it was: a solid representation of a fascinating news story. But as a piece of craft, it just didn’t do it for me. As you say, it loses steam after a certain point. It starts at one level, and sort of stays there, with little forward momentum to sustain interest.

  • The premise is potentially fascinating, though not for the reasons Moselle settles into, where the affability and behaviors of the sheltered innocents takes total precedence over any larger socio-economic concerns. By simply profiling the minors through interviews and quotidian detail, Moselle gains access to their psychology and reveals them to be competent and intelligent, though the filmmakers seem uncertain as to what these revelations mean.

  • The relationship between documentarians and their subjects is often delicate, especially when it comes to private space, but The Wolfpack is perhaps too reluctant to pursue lines of inquiry; what starts as a nonfiction mood piece grows frustratingly opaque as the brothers begin to venture out into the real world, meet girls, and get jobs.

  • The film remains a testament to movie love, and how acculturated, against all odds, you could become on a steady diet of Hollywood product. But in contrast to, say, Makhmalbaf’s semi-fictional sleight of hand, Moselle largely misses the opportunity to see the Angulos’ strange life through the looking glass of movies – to view their chilling society-deprivation experiment, and her exploration of it, as another form of cinema.

  • Moselle obviously happened on a great story, but also (inevitably, perhaps) happened upon it too late, when the dad's malign influence had waned and he was just an irrelevant old man. In fact this is probably the worst time to make this movie, since the boys aren't sufficiently removed from their old, zombie life to really talk about it, or maybe she didn't want to lose a good thing by asking too many questions.

  • Not every move Moselle makes is successful — an impressionistic, chaotic montage subjectively simulating the brothers’ first impressions of the outside world when they finally encounter it unsupervised is obvious in intent but falls flat — but she has tremendous footage and largely does right by it, teasing out the psychological implications with compact precision.

  • Moselle asks questions, but this isn’t the investigative work warranted by a case this bizarre. She lets the imagery (hers, the kids’) speak for itself, and her approach haunts you. You do wonder, though, what a journalist or a mental-health professional might have done with all this access.

  • As a film, it’s easy to discern that this is the product of someone with limited filmmaking experience. Moselle, who does a good job of balancing the distribution of her subject’s darker and lighter notes, doesn’t have a sound enough vision of how to shape the overall structure of these ideas... Yet, regardless of whatever difficulties Moselle may have had with the material, ingrained in the film’s rich foundation is a hilariously depressing portrait of cinephilia in the age of consensus...

  • Most of the documentary takes place in the family’s cramped subsidized apartment, but Moselle’s interviews push past potential distractions to create an intimate space with each brother. Further clues emerge concerning the parents, but this is a film less about gawking than about watching—the power of movies as escapism, and, quite literally, escape.

  • The Wolfpack is no great shakes as a doc, but it does package an irresistible product—and a rare one. True “outsider” art is a rarity in any age, but more so in the plugged-in present, when technology makes the idea of privately cultivating an idiosyncratic style very nearly obsolescent.

  • The Wolfpack frustrates the viewer’s expectations as well. I certainly would have liked to see more of the Angulo family’s homemade films and Moselle leaves unexplored numerous questions regarding Oscar’s philosophy and his manner of enforcing discipline... These questions [about how the Angulos lived] are subsumed in The Wolfpack’s stunning testament to the redemptive power of cinema.

  • You might expect The Wolfpack to resemble an anthropological exercise, a clinical study designed to stimulate the great nature versus nurture debate. Yet perhaps the most unusual thing about the Angulo brothers is how normal they appear. Far from being a dysfunctional, troublingly maladjusted bunch, Bhagavan, Govinda, Jagadisa, Krsna, Mukunda and Narayana are bright, affable and, most surprisingly, comfortable in front of the camera.

  • Some will feel that Moselle doesn’t fully engage some of the darker issues at play here — after all, what’s happened to these kids could be considered abuse — but this is, in the end, a fascinating film about a fascinating family, and it’s very hard to shake.

  • A male coming-of-age narrative, it delivers sometimes frustratingly fragmentary information via crude video imagery and a subtle sound track in which an undercurrent of dread is punctuated by moments of exhilaration. Not until the film’s end does one realize what an epic and intimate story has been told by fledgling documentarian Crystal Moselle.

  • Their Reservoir Dogs—a multi-character story ideal for brothers—is a lovely homage, the “Stuck in the Middle With You” torture scene a standout. More poignant is their Nightmare on Elm Street/horror pastiche, which they stage—around an indoor bonfire—after apparently watching other costumed kids heading freely toward the West Village Halloween Parade.

  • It’s easy to imagine what an exploitative director, using artful editing and a sinister score, could have done to darken this material. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine a more sensitive director for this story than Crystal Moselle, a 34-year-old who five years ago discovered the brothers soon after they began making unaccompanied excursions outside. Sometimes, all you need is a great subject to make a great documentary — or a willingness to chase after total strangers.

  • Moselle pieces together a story that is at once shocking, moving, and an ode to the miraculous power of cinema... The Wolfpack could have only been crafted by a documentarian who had the complete trust of her subjects. It is a thrilling testament to the power of cinema delivered both in form (as a piece of great cinema) and content (the story of lives saved by the movies).

  • The standout, from an audience point of view, was The Wolfpack... It’s a compelling record of a family in transition that came about through happenstance.

  • Watching the film, at first, is a deeply uncomfortable experience... But Moselle’s affection for these tough-talking whelps brings you gradually, optimistically, inside their world of gritty make-believe, and you root for them to take their lives conclusively into their own hands.

  • Moselle’s Sundance-winning pop doc about a group of forcibly locked away siblings is at turns thrilling, ethically complex, frustratingly naïve, distinctively moving and knowingly surreal.

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