Friday, June 21, 2019

We The Animals – a feral coming of age tone poem for the silver screen (QFT from 21 June)

We The Animals is the cinematic version of a tone poem. Director Jeremiah Zagar projects a mood onto the silver screen rather than telling a story. We learn a lot, but hear little. This isn’t a taxing film to watch. Yet once the first half hour had passed and I had got over the initial life-is-too-short-for-this-pace-of-non-story feeling, it grew on me.

An abusive parental relationship swings from sunshine to violent gales as three young boys look on. Their Dad (Raúl Castillo) can be lovey dovey, but is mostly domineering, selfish and often absent. Their Mum (Sheila Vand) cares for and protects them when she can drag her lethargic body out of bed. The feral children creep around the house dressed only in shorts, scavenging for food and finding their own entertainment. Lying under his bed, the youngest, Jonah (Evan Rosado), processes what he sees by drawing disturbing pictures. A older teen with a penchant for explicit chatline TV ads triggers a gentle sexual awakening.

Very quickly it becomes apparent that the scenes are strung together without much of a narrative. Occasional surreal sequences communicate the out of control feeling at the hearty of the youngest child. The naturalistic filming is sometimes stretched beyond believability.

The final, fragile song over the credits beautifully wraps this coming of age drama about a tight-knit family gang who learn how to stand up for themselves – even when that means the father’s violent hand passes from one generation to the next – and leap towards aspects of adolescence far too quickly.

Despite the posters, it’s no more like Moonlight than it can be compared with The Florida Project, but We The Animals is perceptive and intelligent, and screening in Queen’s Film Theatre from Friday 21 June.

No comments: