We the Animals
Stars: Evan Rosado, Isiah Kristian, Josiah Gabriel, Raúl Castillo, Sheila Vand
The influence of Terrence Malick and David Gordon Green’s ‘George Washington’ hang very heavily over the debut fiction feature from US Documentary filmmaker Zagar, a coming-of-age tale adapted from the novel by Justin Torres. Manny, Joel and Jonah (newcomers Kristian, Gabriel and Rosado) are three preteens growing up in rural New York State to quarrelling working class parents. Their father Paps (Castillo) is a loving but volatile and occasionally brutish Puerto Rican, their Ma (Vand) a downtrodden depressive who works in a bottling plant. While Manny and Joel look to take after their father, Jonah is more sensitive, exploring his nascent sexuality through sketches that are brought to life in animated sequences. While the picture sports a linear narrative, it plays more like a collection of half-remembered memories, depicted in golden hues and overlaid with a slightly self-conscious poetic whispered voiceover a la Malick, with occasional flights of magic realism scattered throughout. Despite the derivative feel, Zager elicits entirely organic and believable performances from his inexperienced trio of actors.