The Wolfpack (2015)

wolfpack poster 2015 movie
7.5 Overall Score

Interesting subject and people

So much potential missed

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Wolfpack

Studio: Kotva Films

Genre(s): Documentary

Release Date(s): January 25, 2015 (Sundance)/June 12, 2015 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

wolfpack pa job documentary

So….who was locked up in an apartment for most of there lives? Anyone? Anyone?

In an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo family lives. The members of the large family are primarily recluses and the seven homeschooled children Bhagavan, Narayana, Govinda, Mukunda, Krisna, Jagadesh, and Visnu rarely permitted to leave the apartment with their controlling father Oscar. When the brothers begin venturing out of the apartment, they find themselves trying to fit into the world they have never been a part of…and they are loving the change.

Directed by Crystal Moselle, The Wolfpack is a documentary film. The movie premiered at Sundance and won a grand jury prize for documentaries. The film was relatively well received.

I heard about The Wolfpack before I saw it, and was kind of intrigued. I went into the film with a different impression of what it would be about, and while the film was interesting, I had hoped for more.

wolfpack halloween celebration

I’m sure the people in the apartments around them are really excited to see them lighting fires in the apartment…

The origins of the movie are from the filmmaker Crystal Moselle encountering the brothers in Manhattan. She then befriended them and began to record their life experiences. When Jennifer met the brothers, they had already began to explore the “outside” world. I also had been under the impression that they didn’t get out even as little as they did…I initially believed that they had been locked away without the ability to go or see the world. While they were pretty much imprisoned (there was a year that they didn’t leave the apartment at all), it wasn’t as restrained as I thought it would be.

Much of the drama is underplayed in the film. The apartment was raided at one point for the characters toy guns and there were accusations of child endangerment by CPS…but we really don’t get many answers on how that all turned out. We know that the kids were supposedly going to be ordered to go to public school, but it never seems to come to any fruition in the documentary.

wolfpack going to first movie

Yeah…that’s right…I bought a movie ticket!!!

The whole family in general is odd. The kids don’t know how to interact with the “interloper” recording the family and the trips out are scary because the boys take on this mafia-esque look when they head out (I can see why they get stares and they are old enough that they probably can understand it too regardless if they’ve been shut in). There are some real questions about the father and his relationship with the mother in the movie (with accusations of abuse), and the mother is actually one of the more interesting characters (we see her talk to her mother on the phone for the first time in decades…and see real emotion from her). The film tries not to judge, but it is hard not to judge how the family is being forced to live.

The Wolfpack has aptly been compared to Grey Gardens. Both documentaries feature extremely broken people that are relatively unlikable because they have been so broken by their lives. You feel that the boys and their mother should be more progressive in getting out of the situation, but you also realize that compliance has been beaten into them over the years. Would they be “normal” (which I realize is a nominal term in reality) if they had been out in the public for all of their lives? Doubtful, but it does raise more questions about how social interaction changes and changes people throughout their lives. I’d love to see a follow-up to this documentary in ten years or so to see how the “pack” is doing in their new lives.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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