Jun 082015

The Wolfpack

The seven Angulo children have been kept in relative confinement all of their lives. While their New York apartment was often the limit of their physical world, movies allowed them much-needed escapism. The Wolfpack is reviewed after the jump.

There’s a fascinating story to be found within the walls of the Angulo family’s Lower Manhattan apartment. A hippy Midwestern mother who fell in love with a Peruvian man and then proceeded to have seven children with him; all tall and thin with long black hair. He wanted to create his own tribe and move to Scandinavia, where he believed his family would be safe. They never made it to Scandinavia, so Oscar kept his family in relative isolation in their apartment; believing this was the right way to protect them. Some years they weren’t allowed to venture out at all.

The children sought liberation through their collection of over five thousand films. Their apartment became their film set, and they spent many an hour recreating scenes from their favourite films such as Pulp Fiction and Nightmare on Elm Street. They transcribed entire film scripts, created movie art and carefully constructed costumes from the limited materials available to them. Home video footage of some of these performances are scattered throughout the film, which is largely composed of interviews with the family and footage of them in their apartment.

As they move into adulthood, the six brothers’ desire to explore the real world grew and they began to push the boundaries imposed by their father.

Imagination is a powerful force. It allows us to escape and it can be a powerful coping tool. Imagination and films have clearly been significant factors in keeping the Angulo children in relatively good spirits. They’re charming and extremely likable and are not at all afraid of expressing themselves on camera. It’s hard not to feel admiration for both their strength, and their quite considerable creative talents.

It’s a real shame then that the film is quite average. The Wolfpack is the début film from director Crystal Moselle and it feels very much like a first film. The film lacks cohesion and confidence, and as it result it feels messy and unfocused. The boy’s fascinating filmmaking efforts demanded more attention, as did their father, Oscar Angulo. While Moselle does manage to get Oscar on camera a couple of times, the hard-hitting question are not asked. The film also never really addresses how Moselle discovered the family and what it took for her to be the first ever guest invited into their home for dinner.

The Wolfpack is a frustrating example of a documentary where the story of the subjects is far greater than the resulting film.

By Sam McCosh


The Facts

Director: Crystal Moselle
Producers: Crystal Moselle, Hunter Gray, Alex Orlovsky, Izabella Tzenkova
Country: USA
Runtime: 80 minutes
Remaining SFF Screening Dates: 6:00pm, Sun 14 June (Event Cinemas George St).