We The Animals
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Us three. Us brothers. Us kings, inseparable. Three boys tear through their rural New York hometown, in the midst of their young parents volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over. While Manny and Joel grow into versions of their loving and unpredictable father, Ma seeks to keep her youngest, Jonah, in the cocoon of home. More sensitive and conscious than his older siblings, Jonah increasingly embraces an imagined world all his own. With a screenplay by Dan Kitrosser and Jeremiah Zagar based on the celebrated Justin Torres novel, We the Animals is a visceral coming-of-age story propelled by layered performances from its astounding cast including three talented, young first-time actors - and stunning animated sequences which bring Jonah s torn inner world to life. Drawing from his documentary background, director Jeremiah Zagar creates an immersive portrait of working class family life and brotherhood.
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Couple of comments: this is the big screen adaptation of the book of of the same name by Justin Torres. I have not read the book and hence cannot comment how close the film remains to the book. But I can tell you that this movie is quite the experience. Directed by (for me unknown) Jeremiah Zagar, the movie has a dream-like feel to it, helped in part because the movie accentuates the perspective of Jonah, the youngest of the brothers who turns 10 ("you're not 10, you'll always be 9, and today you are 9 plus 1", ma tells him). The casting of the three young boys is absolutely fantastic (film debut for all three of them). As the movie progresses, the drawings play a bigger role, and take on a life of their own (literally). I found it all very engaging. There are a lot of coming-of-age movies out there, but this is one of a different kind, that's for sure. If there is one element of the film that I can be critical about, it's that much of the movie is filmed with handheld cameras and in extreme close-ups, which took me a while to get used to.
"We The Animals" premiered at this year's Sundance film festival to great acclaim, and it finally opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended dismally (3 people, including myself), although the gorgeous and warm weather probably had something to do with that. If you are in the mood for a coming-of-age movie that is of a different kind, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.