Film review: The Wolfpack

This fascinating outsider family are made to look strangely normal, says Michael Joyce.

Director: Crystal Moselle Starring: Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Mukunda, Krsna, Jagadisa, Visnu, Susanne and Oscar Angulo Film Length: 84 mins

The Angulos are the opposite of the Kardashians. While the KKKs are an essentially dull family whose lives are filmed as if they were fascinating, the Angulos are a potentially fascinating family whose lives are filmed as if they were dull.

The Wolfpack is about a family of seven children who grew up shut in an apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. During their childhood they more or less never left their home. They were home taught by their mother, Susanne, and the seven brothers, who styled themselves as The Wolfpack, watched movies obsessively and painstakingly reenacted them. Their isolation was imposed on them by their Peruvian father, Oscar, a result of his anti-establishment paranoia and legitimate fear of his rough surroundings.

When filmmaker Moselle found them, the brothers were just starting to rebel against Oscar’s control. Getting herself invited into the family home, Moselle’s film is a mixture of what she has filmed and clips from their old video recordings.

Oscar is a failed musician who chooses to express his mistrust of the system through not working. (Ah yes, Oscar, we’ve all pushed that lie in our time.) He said his aim was to make his children be free, not to have them shaped by any religion, ideology or addiction. Instead, he has allowed them to be shaped by Hollywood’s fictions.

It is noticeable that the brothers are drawn towards ‘cool’ movies, in particular Tarantino. Their movie though is not ‘cool’. Despite the extremity of their upbringing they all seem pretty well adjusted. They’re good kids but a bit dull, which then rather invalidates the premise of the documentary: this dysfunctional family unit functions rather well, so what is the point in watching them?

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