Team Experience from the Tribeca Film Festival - here's Jason on "Wolves."
After walking out of the screening a good friend asked me incredulously what on Earth drew me, me of all people, to go see the basketball slash gambling coming-of-age drama Wolves - I'm not exactly the choice audience for sports stories. But my answer was quick and easy: Michael Shannon and Carla Gugino, of course! And as such, Wolves is worth seeing. Those two play the parents of Anthony (a solid Taylor John Smith) and if you've ever dug watching them work, here they work! Overtime!
What they have to work with is a bit, as they say, well-worn: Shannon's father figure is a gambling addict and Gugino's mama bear has been putting up with that for too long. The film (written and directed by Bart Freundlich aka Mr Julianne Moore) leans hard on those tropes, but it also stares down with honesty and heart (mostly) and the performers are excellent enough to overcome, and carve their initials on them. It all leads pretty much where you think it will, down the court on the ever counting clock, but the circuitous route's (mostly) worth traveling.
One big exception -- there's an older basketball playing gentleman called (sigh) Socrates that fits the so-called "Magical Negro" mold so rigidly it's like an unironic Mammy suddenly stumbled out of the bushes. Socrates has no reason whatsoever to go out of his way to teach this dopey kid, much less follow him around and dispense wisdom like an automaton, yet there he always is at just the right moment with no life or interests of his own save aiding Saint Anthony. Can we move past this please? Socrates' got his own shit, son.