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Monday
Apr302018

"We the Animals" coming in August

by Murtada

 

It’s hard to describe what We the Animals is about. It’s easier to tell you how I felt after seeing it. It’s akin to a recalling a hazy memory, one that you don’t quite recall but sharply and clearly remember how it made you feel. I felt elated, moved, joyful, sad and knowing I saw a fantastic film that I won’t soon forget.

We the Animals is a coming of age tale about three brothers. It is also about the summer (or year or years --time is an unclear element) that changed one boy’s life and his relationships with his two older brothers and their parents forever. The story flirts with magical realism while staying grounded in the economic desperation of industrial upstate New York. It’s a queer story about the secrets we hold so close that they are bound to either destroy us or set us free... 

It’s about all these things and more.

Based on the novel by Justin Torres, We the Animals follows Jonah (captivating newcomer Evan Rosado) as he discovers how different he is from his two brothers Manny and Joel (played by Isiah Kristian and Josiah Gabriel). They are united by their fear and admiration of their volatile Puerto Rican father (Raul Castillo) and their protectiveness of and bemusement at their loving but unpredictable white mother (Sheila Vand).

Jonah’s otherness is conveyed to him by his parents - his mother stating he’ll remain her little boy while his brothers grow up and his father caling him “pretty”. Adding to Jonah’s otherness are the secrets he keeps to himself and to the illustrated journals he hides under his bed.

The book's lyrical gorgeous prose could’ve made it daunting to adapt. But director Jeremiah Zagar, who co-wrote the screenplay with Daniel Kitrosser, matches the book’s spirit of confessional storytelling by intercutting the poetic storytelling with animated sequences drawn out of Jonah’s journal. That visually inventive trick is coupled with vivid and fully developed characters. The film, to its credit, doesn’t shy away from the book’s challening themes about emerging sexuality or colorism as favoritism between siblings in a multiracial family. The depth of ideas and assured filmmaking make We the Animals a must-see. It'll be worth revisiting again and again.

We the Animals played the Tribeca Film Festival after winning the NEXT Innovater Award at Sundance. Its limited release is scheduled for August 10th.

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Reader Comments (4)

The film I'm most excited to see this year. I'm glad you liked it Murtada, I usually align with your taste. Happy to see Raul in a standout role too.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJess

thanks for telling me about this movie or i would have missed reading the book (BEAUTIFUL) and seeing the movie at Tribeca. It's a really lovely combo both informing the otehr while being two different pieces of art fit for their mediums.

April 30, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The book is SO GOOD. One of my fave books that I've read in a long time. So glad to hear the film lives up to it while finding its own way of telling the story. Can't wait to see this.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Movies are an inspiration to life, enjoy the experience.

May 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterWillian

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