A high-concept arthouse drama about a boy who believes he is a wolf.
Nathalie Biancheri writes and directs this odd but thought-provoking film about a real psychological disorder of a person believing they are actually animals trapped in a human body. She targets Jacob played by George MacKay who thinks he’s a wolf in a boy’s body. His parents find a rehabilitation facility run by “The Zookeeper” (Paddy Considine) who smiles wryly as he assures Jacob’s parents that he can cure the boy of his disorder. As quickly as the doors close, The Zookeeper’s smile disappears and the verbal abuse begins only to be followed by physical abuse and torture methods.
Jacob’s not alone in this situation with Parrot (Lola Petticres), German Shepherd (Fionn O’Shea), and his love interest Wildcat (Lily-Rose Depp) participate in their rehabilitation process with him. Their interactions and responses to “treatment” are heartbreaking and at times difficult to watch as Biancheri pushes the boundaries. Using lighting and confined areas, she captures (no pun intended) the perfect atmosphere for this captivating story as her actors physically resemble the animal they feel they are. MacKay stands out in this film with his expressive eyes as we connect with his character. His sinewy arms and sharply triangular shoulder blade that almost rips away from his back as he walks on all fours is mesmerizing. This boy is struggling to be something that he is tortured and shunned for and while we know this is truly crazy by definition, we want him to be whatever he wants to be.
While on the surface, “Wolf” seems to be completely ridiculous, we can lift just one layer to peer beneath the surface and find an analogy of what both kids and adults must feel as they go through life not being accepted for who they are. The character of Jacob, an adolescent, reminds us of the confusing times they go through, needing to be loved no matter how they identify. Biancheri certainly challenges us in this film to think outside the box while her characters remain in one.