Rebelling against your parents is an essential teenage rite of passage. But the most rebellious thing the Angulo brothers, who populate the documentary The Wolfpack, would like to do is to leave the house once in a while.
This sextet of longhaired, homeschooled brothers lived most of their young lives like hermits, along with their sister and parents, in a Lower East Side apartment. The closest they get to venturing into the world is watching their vast DVD collection of movies they end up acting out in their apartment. Like most introverted cinephiles, they're diehard Quentin Tarantino fans.
Of course, when these boys are in their teens, the itch to break away from the nest becomes unbearable. 15-year-old Mukunda is the first to break out, donning a Michael Myers mask so people won't recognize him. That doesn't go so well, since the police pick him up. Eventually, the rest of the bros follow his lead. Soon, they all venture out to spots such as the beach and the movies, still getting looks from people, since they dress and act like movie gangsters.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize winner for documentaries at this year's Sundance Film Festival (you also might have caught it at Full Frame), The Wolfpack is an extreme story of overprotective parenting. For years, the boys' Peruvian-born, Hare Krishna dad maintained a psychological grip on his children and his U.S.-born wife, preventing them from having contact with the outside world because, well, he can't stand this country. He wanted to start his family in Scandinavia, but a lack of funds meant he was stuck here.
As disturbing as this all sounds—many of you must be wondering why the hell Child Protective Services hasn't scooped up these kids, whom I'm sure will have shrinks on speed dial for most of their adult lives—director Crystal Moselle makes an optimistic study of their quest to break out of a claustrophobic environment and gain some independence.
Hopefully, The Wolfpack will also remind some parents that you can't hold onto your kids forever. Their desire to see and do everything is too strong. Sometimes, you just gotta let those little bastards roam.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Juvenile detention."