– by David Morgan-Brown
It may sound cute to say that this documentary is about six brothers living in New York who are all obsessed with films and recreate scenes (or the entirety) of their favourites in their own DIY fashion. What’s not cute is that these brothers have spent almost the entirety of their lives in their New York apartment with their parents, never making contact with anyone in the outside world and rarely ever leaving their home. As the wolfpack leader says “sometimes we’d go out nine times a year. Sometimes once. And one particular year, we never got out at all.” Documentarian Crystal Moselle has chosen quite the right time to invade this claustrophobic, yet still joyfully communal habitat to document not only the strange lives of these people, but also the brothers coming of age and their uprising resilience.
To stave off their bottled-up boredom, the brothers gorged on the family’s extensive movie collection and they found this was the best way to be a part of the world. Their passion grew from simply watching the films to re-enacting them, as the brothers would get together to watch the films, write down the scripts, get costumes and props together, and film sections of their favourite films in the confines of the house. Their love for films is as enthusiastic as what you’d expect from young men growing into adulthood with a yearning for fantasy over reality, though in this particular case it is even more intensified. They work hard on their recreations from films such as The Dark Knight and Reservoir Dogs, creating costumes and props out of the likes of cereal boxes and empty yoghurt containers.
This documentary unravels the very peculiar lifestyle of this family, with their archives of home video footage helping flesh out their confined history. The family is seen in these tapes having as much fun as they can within their home, celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (often with a movie-related slant to them).
This documentary focuses mostly on the eldest of the children, Mukunda, who takes the viewers on a tour of this family and their home that has been mostly been dictated by the father, Oscar, who prohibits the children and his wife from leaving the home except for very rare instances. Mukunda ends up acting as the leader for his younger siblings, as they all come of age and realise their newfound independence as adults, which now means that they can (if they choose to) enter the outside world. Their mother is supportive of this action, and even Oscar (who seems to spend most of his own time escaping reality by getting drunk and watching TV) seems to passively allow this to happen, as he is aware he cannot be such an unorthodoxly restrictive father for their entire lives of his children.
This is an undeniably fascinating documentary, that doesn’t need to be too impressive or technically complex to get its story across. The Wolfpack details the lifestyles that are obviously eccentric, yet done out of not only a passion for film, but a frustration with their living conditions. It sure is a love-letter to cinema and movie-making, just one of the strangest ones you’ll see in recent years.