Wednesday, April 15, 2015

DIFF 2015 Review- THE WOLFPACK- Jonesy's Take

Directed by Crystal Moselle 
Starring: Bhagavan Angulo, Govinda Angulo, Jagadisa Angulo, Krsna Angulo, Mukunda Angulo, and Narayana Angulo.
Synopsis: A documentary following a family in the Lower East Side.

We never realize how much we're affected by our parents and/or our childhood until we get older. If we didn't care for our parents, we'll shout forever how we won't end up like them, and how I'll raise my children differently so they turn out okay. But in the end, nurture seems to win out over nature. Most of the time, no matter how hard we try, a little bit of our parents sneak in and become ingrained in our adult minds.

THE WOLFPACK is a documentary that follows the Angulo family from the Lower East Side in Manhattan. There are six brothers and one sister. And this family is quite unique. They all have names from a dead language, Sanskrit; they love movies and music, and they're dad doesn't like society, and he's a bit paranoid, so the family rarely goes outside. In fact, one year, they NEVER ventured outside. They just stayed up in their apartment away from the horrors of the outside world. Instead they escape through the world of movies. They watch and rewatch films, copy down lines, and recreate scenes in order to escape the confines of their secluded lifestyle.

When they talk on camera, they're strangely articulate. They've been home-schooled their entire lives,  yet you can tell their mother has educated them well. In fact, until later in the film, I didn't notice that the brothers don't use filler words, such as "like," that have influenced many young people in today's jargon.

Eventually, they start feeling rebellious, like most teenagers do, and begin to question their father's strict rules and seclusion. They want their own lives and want to interact with society. But there's a fear behind their eyes when they talk about it. Since they've been secluded for so long, how can they ever live outside these walls? What are they supposed to do when they become 18? Stay there forever?

When the boys speak about their childhood, they never talk about any malice. They seemed to enjoy their childhood for the most part. After all, with seven kids in the house, there was always someone to play with. However, there's an underlying anger towards their father for putting them and their mother in this position. Their mother never wanted this life for them. She would rather them run around in meadows and forests than be cooped up in an apartment. But it seems that mom was the lynch pin that kept this family from imploding and kept the kids sane.

Director Crystal Moselle was given unparalleled access to their lives. Her ability to capture the rawness of the family dynamic is astounding. As she spends more time with them, they begin to open up more about their feelings and their struggles. Dad is not much for camera time (shocking), but the few moments he is on camera is very eye-opening. It's clear from the few words he speaks why this family has ended up in this position.

I almost can't do this movie justice. This is one family's small slice-of-life film. There's no surprise bombshell or grander story. But the way Moselle tells it is absolutely fascinating and will stay with you after it ends. A definite watch for anyone who loves unique real-life stories.

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