Review: The Wolfpack (2015)

As powerful as it is ridiculous, it squeezes out all of your emotions, but you won't mind because, genuinely, it's great!

“There’s nowt weirder than folk.”

That’s what Mum used to say when we were watching a fluff story on the news, or something like You’ve Been Framed. I can only image what she’d have the say about The Wolfpack. I really can’t say much (I will, don’t worry, it’s a review) about Crytal Moselle‘s documentary, except what the holy hell?

As much a piece about the reclusive Angulo family as it is about sociopaths, extreme paternal instincts, and the whole human race – every last one of us.

The patriarch of the family/resident villain is Oscar Angulo, he’s really a troubled soul. Once a guide in the mountains of Peru, who wooed an American tourist and dreamed of a life together in  the country with their ten children – as per his obsession with the Hare Krishna religion. However, as Susanne Angulo (mother/teacher/beaten wife) is only human, she has seven children – Mukunda, Narayana, Govinda, Bhagavan, KrisnaJagadesh, and their sister Visnu – and as Oscar refused to work for the machine, all they could afford was a small apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, located in an undesirable neighbourhood, full of crime.

This triggers something in Oscar and so his family are marooned in their apartment to keep them away from everyone, to be safe. Alone with no company other than their thousands of movies.

What’s most strange about the whole situation is just how normal all the children are. I mean they’re weird, but in a weird kid kinda way and not the way someone who has only been allowed out of the house a handful of times should be – does that make sense? Take your time, read it again.

They’re amazing though, these boys. They’re inventive and talented and from how we see them, they’re just so damn nice. You’re on their side immediately, and rightly so; they’re the victims of something ridiculous that they could never have had control over. So when one child, Mukunda, tells the story of how he rose up out of his father’s shadow and went outside – dressed as Michael Myers (Halloween not Shrek) – you become filled with a sense of great pride and joy, but also dread, because who knows what Oscar is capable of. He is abusive to his wife, who dotes on him, so what he could do to poor Mukunda is beyond imagination.

But he’s fine… like damn – well he’s fine in that he gets arrested and committed to an psychiatric hospital but he comes home and he’s fine, Oscar is all bark and no bite.

They’re free, but they’re still wary.

I don’t wanna harp on at you about the story of it, I wouldn’t do it justice; just go see it!

But I can and will harp on about the Angulo kids. They’re fantastic. In more ways than one, they’re recreations of the movies they see are so on point it’s scary, their voices and movements perfectly mimic the famous scenes we know and love, they’re all talented musicians – Oscar says being signed to a label and making money off of music is okay, I’m guessing he doesn’t know about Simon ‘the devil’ Cowell. But what’s most fantastic is their reserve and their ability to change and their strength in character. Standing up to the only way of life they have ever known, facing all the demons they’ve been told about since they were children – the city can be a scary place, made a million times worse when told by someone scared of it.

If you want to be inspired they’re your guys, if you want to be shocked this is your film; it’s as simple as that to be honest.

I can’t get it across to you how much this film has messed with me. I find myself thinking “how?”, and then realising that it’s all far too easy. Do you know your neighbours? I know I don’t. And it’s not just Americans being crazy, for one Oscar is Peruvian and for two this is just humans being human beings. We all have it in us to be weird, and twisted, psychopaths and arrogant. But what’s truly great is how we react to it all, in general we’re all pretty alright, maybe a bit arrogant and weird but we steer clear of the other two. And that’s something to celebrate.

I don’t know what Ms Moselle wanted to teach us, maybe she just was showing us something interesting, but what I think we should learn is that being human is fucking great and being a bit abnormal is normal. We should embrace the weirdos, not judge them, you don’t know where they’ve been. At the end of it all, whether we were put here or evolved into us, we can’t single people out and compare ourselves to them. They are them and we are we, but secretly we are them and they are we and even more secretly fuck it, and just live your life you asshole!

See The Wolfpack and really see it; try and empathise with all of them, and you’ll be a better person because of it – guaranteed.

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