The Wolfpack is now showing at the Garden City Cinema in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
The Wolfpack is a documentary directed by Crystal Moselle that focuses on a family who homeschooled their seven children and have lived in almost total isolation in New York. The six brothers became fascinated by films, as it was their only link to the outside world and so spent their time recreating their favourite films.
The Angulo family have been cut off from the world for years and it’s so sad and frustrating to hear the reason why. The head of the family Oscar claims he’s kept his family away from society because he fears for their safety in big bad New York but really that’s just code for control.
Oscar has the only key to the apartment.
Aside from the occasional chaperoned excursion the family lives in isolation, one of the boys says there was one year when they never left the house. When they did leave the house they were instructed not to speak or look at anyone. One day one of the brothers leaves the house and thus begins the start of their integration into the world.
The Wolfpack gives us a glimpse of a life that is astonishing. As a kid who grew up living in the wilds of Scotland with few friends nearby to play with, I too spent a lot of time watching films and like the Angulo brothers, I learned a lot from films but I had freedom that has been denied to these kids.
Sounds depressing right? Well, it is and it isn’t. It’s sad but you can see they have a sense of humour and while the emotional scars and repressed anger of being locked away from the world are there, the boys have a lot of fun making their home movies.
The boys are ingenious when it comes to making their props for their films and the time, dedication and creativity involved is admirable. They love film. One of the most touching moments in the film is when the boys go to the cinema for the first time, a rite of passage to us cinephiles. It’s a moment they say they’ll never forget.
Due to their father’s aversion to work which he claims is down to his anti-capitalist philosophy, the family (all 9 members) live in a four bedroom apartment that isn’t exactly squalor but isn’t far off. It’s claustrophobic but this seems to have fostered the brothers bond with each other.
If the Angulo boys weren’t so good natured and due to their upbringing, somewhat naive, they could be perceived as a bit sinister. They dress like the mafia, although it’s clear they’re going for a Reservoir Dogs look.
One of the brothers, shaves his eyebrows off in a move reminiscent of Syd Barrett and it’s not made clear why.
One brother spent time in a psychiatric hospital after leaving the house wearing his handmade Michael Myers mask and understandably scared the shit out of people, the police were called and after his stay he was appointed a therapist who also sees the other brothers.
It’s a little frightening to see the most outspoken brother continue the cycle his father has started. When he and his brothers are told they may have to go to a state school, the eldest says ‘over his dead body’ he goes on to explain that his Mum gets paid each month for homeschooling and she’d have to go to work if they went to school and he’d worry about her. It’s easy to see this as a son concerned for his mother’s safety but he’s echoing his father’s words.
The Wolfpack is such an interesting film, the only faults are that the film doesn’t quite dig deep enough. There are some unanswered questions and a failure to really explore the relationship between the parents. Oscar’s controlling behaviour, his drinking and violence and Suzanne, a clearly miserable woman who had not planned to raise her children this way.
It’s sometimes unclear as to the chronological order of scenes and there are a few moments where you feel like some experiences have been recreated for the film. It’s hard to keep track of which brother is which, how old each brother they are and at what point they found their independence.
That aside it’s a deeply fascinating look at an unusual family that will have you thinking it over for days.
To book tickets to see The Wolfpack at the Garden City Cinema click here.