I finally got around to seeing The Wolfpack, but I was not prepared for it.
The true story of six brothers, aged 11 to 18, who were imprisoned in their New York apartment by their crazy parents, how could it be anything but dark and disturbing?
Somehow, from the promotional pictures I’d seen, I expected something more ‘quirky’ and lighthearted.
I knew the boys had learned about life from the movies that were their only link to the world outside. They were discovered walking down the street in the lower Eastside, dressed like characters from Reservoir Dogs, by a young filmmaker who ended up making a documentary about them.
Watching the family’s home movies, you see a group of children who are almost like puppies, clinging together with affection and loyalty and in the end, fear.
Fear of their father, a delusional South American devotee of Hindu, who didn’t believe in haircuts or exposure to the ‘poisonous capitalist society’ outside their front door, which he kept locked.
The mother has given up all power to her husband, who doesn’t believe in working but appears to like a drink or three.
The story is also a tale of resilience; the six boys are clearly damaged but somehow thrive. They are smart, sensitive, and loving. They are remarkably curious and life-affirming despite all odds.
But the picture of long-term abuse is just staggering. How does this go on?
It made me wonder how many households are run by little individual Hitlers, making crazy rules that no one has the nerve to disobey. The father here is like a paranoid Charles Manson without the charisma. A total shithead who somehow managed to get an idealistic farm-girl to buy into his delusions and bear him seven children.
The boys have a sister, Krishna, who was born with a disorder that keeps her tied to her parents, evidently.
Free Krishna, somebody!
One thing that startled me during this movie is the intensity of my revulsion for the Dictatorial Father. It is a visceral loathing that I carry around with me, ready to explode. All instances of dictatorial men, in books or movies or in the lives of my friends, trigger a deep antipathy, And by antipathy, I mean I want to kill them.
The Wolfpack father will never have to pay for his actions. All the petty authoritarian husbands and fathers out there will keep getting their way and ruining people’s lives. But why do women let this happen?
My own father left when I was 3 but maybe I’ve blocked out memories of his presence in the home. Or maybe it’s just the injustice of the situation that makes me want to kill these fucking bastards.
Everyone who has a daughter or who is in a position to influence young girls should make a point of teaching them to stand up and say No. Say No and walk away or run away if you have to.
It seems so obvious, and yet we haven’t made it clear.
See this movie for its unique gaze into the heart of darkness or because of the beautiful boys with the long silky hair.
But make sure you pass along the message to never let anyone control you. Ever. No matter what.