By Sidney Butler
I thought no one could ever truly be or feel alone in New York City until I observed the lives of the Angulo brothers. Living everyday above the hectic metropolitan lifestyle and isolated from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, these siblings grew up in their own reality surrounded by films and imagination. Premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, documentarian Crystal Moselle conducts an insightful and heartfelt portrayal of an alienated family living life apart yet completely within society in her film “The Wolfpack.”
Susanne and Oscar Angulo moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1996. They decided that they would raise their sons at home away from the outside world. From then, the Angulo brothers, Jagadesh (16), Krisna (17), Mukuda (20), Narayana (22), Govinda (22) and Bhagavan (23) grew up hearing from their father, Oscar Angulo, that the outside world was dangerous and untrustworthy. By hiding his family away from the reality of society, Oscar denied his sons their freedom of normalcy.
Forced to define and create their own personal escapism in the form of re-enacting films, mostly from director Quentin Tarantino, these brothers began to find happiness in their own crafted illusions. As the viewer watches the “wolfpack” shoot fake guns while reenacting “Pulp Fiction” and creating Batman costumes out of yoga mats, they may wonder if ignorance can truly be bliss.
Raised at home, they were educated by their mother Susanne. While they were unable to attend public school, they were also able to avoid the harsh interactions that come with growing up different; away from the bullying, the teasing, the insecurities, the Angulo’s grew up above the difficulties of adolescence.
Towards the end of the film, the boys find their own way outside of the demanding shadow of their father, able to travel to Coney Island, go to the movies and branch out on their own. Like a long lost tribe, one that has been locked away since the dawn of computers, the introduction of Facebook and the fall of DVDs, these siblings realize how much they don’t know and how sheltered they have truly been. Yet, their world of television and movies still overtakes them. At his new job, Mukunda Angulo, the alpha of the pack and arguably the most outspoken, asks, “Who here watches ‘Game of Thrones?’” and then, “I finished three seasons of ‘Breaking Bad’ in two days.” Even immersed in the outside world his insular obsession with film commands his psychology and prompts his conversations.
The harsh reality of “The Wolfpack” is how easily it is to get lost in a world of your own. A film that is genuine at its core and entertaining throughout, documentarian Crystal Moselle conducts a heartfelt exploration into a lifestyle that is so far removed from society that it teaches its audience that it is never too late to change who you are and expand what you think you may know about the world.
Sidney Butler is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.