The Wolfpack – Review

This movie walks a risky line in documentary ethics but without a doubt, it’s one of the most perplexing and confronting stories in a long time. The story behind this movie led this film to win the grand jury award at the Sundance Film Festival of 2015.

This mystifying documentary tells a bizarre story of six Angulo siblings who were imprisoned in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan by their father, a Peruvian immigrant with a staunch devotion to Hare Krishna.  He kept the six brothers imprisoned in the sixteenth-floor apartment because he was terrified of the influences of the outside world and its effects on the boys.

Their hippie mother home schooled all the brothers, together with one sister and their only perception of the outside world came from watching movies. Their father encouraged them to create their own world, inside the apartment and this led the siblings to recreate scenes from the movies that were in constant rotation.

In the year 2010, Mukunda, the most confident individual in the bunch sneaked out, and the events that followed led the boys to start exploring the neighbourhood. This is where they met a young documentarist by the name Crystal Moselle. In a family that does not seem welcoming to a film crew, Moselle deserves some credit for convincing such people to open up to the outside world: this should have been explained in the film.

The Wolfpack film

Sadly, there is nothing special about this movie. The director of this documentary, Moselle, seems to prefer the aesthetic of letting the story tell itself, but even once she’s inside, she fails to identify the story that she wants to tell. This film ends up taking a shapeless feel with a not-so-clear chronology of events. The movie even fails to highlight the different personalities of the boys.

But for a young documentarist, Moselle, shown her attentiveness to detail as she encountered the boys in one of their outings dressed as the characters in the film Reservoir Dogs. She immediately identified that she had spotted something special. To act as further good fortune for Moselle, the FBI raided the home as she was filming the documentary. While watching this documentary, one can’t help to wonder how the family avoided external interferences for so long, and how they could avoid temptations such as Internet and its tricks such as gambling with a Betfair promotion code, sex, social networks… We assist a family who have no other world except themselves and TV. One of the main questions that remain unanswered in this film is the boy’s experiences of the real world and their expectations from the films that they continuously watched.

This film features questions of consent as some of the boys had not attained teenage years when the documentary commenced. The documentary also stays away from the mentally challenged sister and the delusional father. Moselle’s interviews concentrate on the older boys who are capable of making informed choices. Another question that begs an answer is how much her presence changes the events of this family.

Moselle captures some great moments, but none of these individuals comes off as a victim, as one would expect from such a situation. This movie can invoke certain feelings from the audience, and anyone who likes this film will end up warming to them.

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