Hot Docs 2015: The Wolfpack Review

Screen On Screen

Let’s be clear, many of you will adore this film. It’s got all the feel-good elements – a group of rambunctious, charismatic kids that adore films and in their spare time go around recreating their favourite scenes. It’s a look into the lives of these kids within social housing in New York, tracing their steps as they venture outside into the world beyond their family’s den. With their long hard and distinct features, this group with bright eyes and wide smiles make for an engaging subject.

Where the film falls apart is in the pedestrian filmmaking and superficial documentation of the subjects. At best this is a fond look at people that Director Crystal Moselle met on the streets of the Lower East Side, at worst it’s mere poverty porn, revelling in the weird and strange antics of the Angulo brothers. It’s usually harsh to judge a film by what it’s not, but so many questions are left either unanswered or conveniently ignored that it left even public audiences at Sundance wondering about how to make sense of the lives of these characters.

The more one dives into The Wolfpack, the less one finds, making its awkwardness even more troublesome. It’s a one-dimensional film stretched to  feature length, and any of the hard questions – be they asked of the father or those around the family- seem to be comfortably left up to the imagination of the viewer. The Wolfpack plays as if any dark or difficult subject matter is quickly skirted in order to not overlook the fun and frivolity. It may make for a sold out screening, but it doesn’t make for a strong and impactful film.