Sundance Review: The Wolfpack
Whew. Okay, readers. The last one is right here. This year I saw the most movies I've ever seen at the festival (that number being 8,) and I'm happy to say I capped off the experience on a very high note. Like last year, we decided again to get tickets to a randomly selected screening that shows one of the movies the grand jury awarded the top prizes to, and while I was hoping for a repeat viewing of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, we ended up with tickets to the documentary The Wolfpack. Usually, I'm not huge on documentaries, but the premise of it was so interesting and the fact it won the grand jury prize for US Documentaries made it pretty much a sure thing right? Yes. In fact, this movie ended up being far more fascinating than I thought it could be.
The documentary follows a real-life family of two parents, their six sons, and their lone daughter (actually it doesn't really follow her at all because we rarely see her) and how different their lives are from the average American. You see, the patriarch of this family hoped to raise his children as a type of tribe undefiled from the world. As such, he only let them out in public a few times a year, if at all. And when they were out, they were instructed to trust no one and to even look at no one. He told them to never cut their hair...and well clearly they've also never been to see a dentist. The boys' only link to the outside world is the word of cinema. They have a deep love of movies to the extent that one of their favorite hobbies is to dictate the screenplays of their favorite movies, create the props and costumes necessary to recreate them and film their own versions. They actually made quite the impressive version of The Dark Knight, with one of the sons providing a spot-on impression of Heath Ledger's Joker. This lonely, sheltered existence became too much for one of the sons though, and the movie focuses on his attempts to try and become more familiar with the world and to get his brothers to do the same.
This documentary made me feel almost every feeling possible. It made me laugh, it made me want to cry, it made me feel tense, it made me feel disturbed, it made me happy for their small triumphs, and made me really depressed that such an existence is a reality for more people than we may even realize. This movie reaffirmed my stance that bubbles of any kind, are dangerous. Parents who try to protect their children by shielding them from "the world" creates a false reality that can be even more dangerous than what they're trying to protect them from. I'm not sure why exactly this family agreed to have their story told, or under what circumstances this movie came to be... but boy was it filled with moments that will stay with you. There is so much more I could say about this doc--suffice it to say, I'm going to be thinking about that one for a while. EMILY RATING: 9/10