The Wolfpack

Posted by Laurence Green

Truth proves stranger than fiction in Crystal Moselle's debut documentary feature The Wolfpack (selected cinemas).

Still of Mukunda Angulo in The Wolfpack (2015)

We are in a cramped, public housing apartment on New York's Lower East Side. Peruvian immigrant Angulo, a failed musician with an aversion to work, and his ex-hippie American wife Susanne decided in the 1990s to raise all seven of their children - six boys and a girl, each one named after a Hindu deity - in almost total isolation. Homeschooled by their mother, the children who range in age from 16 to 24, were allowed out only a few times a year and one child did not leave the flat at all. But in 2010, 15 year-old Mukunda went rogue, leading by a meeting to this funny, disturbing movie.

Although great pains were taken to shelter the kids from the outside world, they were not protected from the world of Hollywood movies and, unlike other parents, the Angulos imposed no limits on what sort of films their offspring could watch. The Angulo boys did not only watch; they began transcribing and memorising the scripts of the movies they saw and re-enacting them in the living room with the help of homemade props and costumes. Indeed, we first meet this gaggle of longhaired teenage boys playing a scene from Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. Only as the scene goes on and the kids nail every cadence does the mood grow uneasy: might these boys know their lines a little too well?

Made over a four-year period, the film offers illuminating insights into issues around family unity and teenage rebellion. This is essentially the video diary of a revolution. Mukunda now refuses to speak to his father, despite still living at home, while Oscar seems oddly pleased that the strict regime he laid down for years is now falling apart.

This fairytale story of boys raised by movies asks some pointed questions that remain answered: how has the family managed to avoid external inference for so long? How does the boys' experience of the real world compare to what they have come to expect in from the movies?

Nevertheless, this absorbing, unique documentary does end on an uplifting note when we see Mukunda taking the plunge and starting to shoot his own film with the aid of a female friend. Indeed, we are left wondering whether he could in fact be the future Tarantino or Scorsese?


The Wolfpack

In selected cinemas from August 21 2015.


Images: © 2015 - Magnolia Pictures

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