Review: Wolf defies categorization, but delivers impressive performance


It is a difficult question to classify and even more difficult to analyze, but ultimately satisfying to see. The last of Nocturnal the director Nathalie Biancheri, Wolf tells the story of a young man named Jacob (George MacKay, 1917), whose parents open the film by dropping it off at a clinic that appears to specialize in treating young people who believe they are various animals, Jacob eating, sleeping, and living like a wolf (and often involves him running around naked in the woods at his home). At the clinic, he is surrounded by other children and young adults who think they are birds, spiders, dogs, horses and squirrels. The therapy they all receive involves indulging in their beliefs for a period of time, until the moment when the sadistic head therapist (Paddy Considine, known only as the zookeeper) comes to break them down. their tendencies using extreme forms of curative treatment.

Wolf

Image courtesy of Focus Features.

Part of the fascinating quality of Wolf just watch these young actors, especially MacKay, transform their body language into that of their chosen animal. I’m pretty sure real animal sounds are mixed in with the actors’ voices when they’re at their most animalistic, but for the most part it’s all about performance, and MacKay’s wolf moves are terrifying, graceful at times. to others.

One night, Jacob meets a young woman named Wildcat (Lily-Rose Depp), and it’s difficult at first to determine if she works in the clinic or is a patient. She seems to be in control of the establishment, but she also thinks that she is a wild cat, a fact that she prefers to keep a secret from the staff. The two go out to the field at night, and she even knows where to take him where he can howl at the moon without risking getting caught. They form a strong bond, which quickly turns into deep affection. But since the zookeeper punishes any animal behavior at some point in his process, Jacob continues to act savagely at night, unbeknownst to the zookeeper, messes up his therapy plans and makes him very angry. result.

To punish Jacob for his naked defiant acts, he is tied up and gagged in a cage and treated in a way that none of the parents who sent their children to this place would find acceptable. But there comes a point where he has to decide whether he chooses to stay with Wildcat, who is too afraid to leave the establishment, or to escape and live out his foreseeable future as a wolf in the wild. I tried to tell you that it was strange, but the actors of Wolf are so attached to these for the most part astonishing performances, that it is very easy to feel their fear, their pain and their struggle without much effort.

I’m not sure director Biancheri goes so far as to draw parallels between her characters and more common examples of people feeling trapped in the wrong body, but she’s getting dangerously close, and I’m not quite right. made sure the metaphor would work, but I’m probably not the one to ask. That doesn’t prevent the film from being less intriguing. It certainly made me wonder about people who suffer from this condition and how they are treated properly, but the film doesn’t feel like its goal is education. At the end, Wolf is interesting because of performance, not messages.

The film hits theaters on Friday.

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