We the Animals
Sheila Vand, Raúl Castillo, Evan Rosado
Documentarian Jeremiah Zagar (In a Dream, Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart) moves into narrative features with this fluid, dream-like adaptation of Justin Torres’ autobiographical novel about a mixed-race family with three inseparable young sons in upstate New York, that screened to acclaim at Sundance 2018.
Manny (Isaiah Kristian), Joel (Josiah Gabriel), and Jonah (Evan Rosado) are tearing their way through childhood. Their mother (Sheila Vand) and father (Raúl Castillo) have a volatile relationship that makes and unmakes the family many times over, often leaving the boys fending for themselves; and as their parents fight, Manny and Joel begin to grow into versions of their father while their mother seeks to shelter her youngest, Jonah, within the cocoon of home. Distanced from his brothers, Jonah becomes increasingly aware of his desperate need to escape and begins to embrace an imagined world all his own.
Lyrical, impressionistic, arrestingly beautiful and strongly performed (with the boys all played by non-professional actors), Zagar’s heartbreaking film – part coming of age story, part sexual exploration, part magical realism – explores the animalism of young children alongside that of violent, warring adults.