Directed by Crystal Moselle
The Wolfpack is an interesting movie about an unimaginably fascinating story. The film is a documentary about the Angulo family, in particular its half-dozen sons, who throughout their childhood almost never left their apartment in the Lower East Side, essentially held prisoner by a father who nursed vague ideas about creating a tribe inspired by Sanskrit mythology.
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. It was never clear how aware the boys were of the uniqueness of their circumstances, nor how exactly the father imprisoned them. When one of the boys escapes and gets arrested, we never learn the father’s reaction. Both parents appear on film, with the father seeming more eccentric than violent; was there ever discussion of bringing criminal charges against him? Were laws even violated? How good was their home-schooling? The boys’ grandmother announces a visit after a 25-year silence, but we never hear the outcome of this reunion. The kids are startlingly well-spoken, but insights into how their upbringing skewed their lives—as when one interacts with a pretty actress—are sporadic at best. Director Crystal Moselle is more interested in the boys’ film geekery than their upbringing: the documentary is wall-to-wall home movies and reenactments they made of favorite movies (all in low-def with jerky cameras; anyone who gets queasy be advised). It is, admittedly, amusing to see their serviceable impressions of the Joker and characters from Pulp Fiction, but those projects may be the least interesting thing about them.
Upcoming Tribeca Film Festival screenings: Monday, April 20, 4:30pm; Wednesday, April 22, 6:30pm. Theatrical release begins June 12 in NYC