The Wolfpack: NZFF Review
Six figures, all with long hair, boyish grins and all movie fans.
All of them suited and booted, engaged in acting out scenes from Reservoir Dogs within the confines of their Manhattan apartment. All of them fully enthused about the projects and all of them clearly happy in their outlook on life.
Except that The Wolfpack is anything but.
Director Crystal Moselle's film takes a look into the lives of the Angulo brothers, and reveals they have never ventured outside of their apartment, at the command of their father. What follows in this doco mixes home footage of the boys throughout their years of tenure inside their Lower East Manhattan apartment and never quite fully answers why it's turned out like it has.
Thankfully, the subjects are engaging - both as they tentatively head out from under their oppressed lives within and with their interactions from home movie footage of the past. One even intones a thought many attending the New Zealand International Film Festival will share - "If I didn't have movies, life would be boring." But its double meaning won't be lost on those watching the story, as the growing concern manifests that the Angulo brothers have been imprisoned and unable to experience what many believe to be the formative years of their lives.
It takes Moselle a long while to get to the father, and to question some of his motivations for the home-schooling of the kids, his paranoid tyranny given a gentle prod, but it appears that Moselle shies away from asking some of the bigger questions of the father and his reasons. That she lets him cite the fear of the government, the fear of living in New York, and the fear of what may happen to his sons to be all the reasons she needs to understand. Sadly, the audience wants more, and it's only because the subjects shine, that The Wolfpack reaches the heights that it does, with so many mysteries left unanswered.
We're given an in-road into the world of The Wolfpack, and what transpires is ultimately troubling (one Angulo brother reveals that "we were frightened kids", something that's backed up by disturbing home footage from their youth) but yet is also optimistic in its resolution. Trips to Coney Island have a thrill to them as we experience the Angulo Brothers' joy at being out in the world, but their reactions and inevitable withdrawal reaction to the world around them is never quite fully probed; one suspects that Moselle's friendship with the group may have compromised some of her objectivity to her subjects.
Ultimately, The Wolfpack offers a tantalising view into a world of insular bonding, but never quite fulfils the promise of explaining how it could happen - it appears that the Angulo Senior's oppressive reach may also have affected Moselle's ability to tell the story she always suspected was lurking within.