We the Animals (2018)

R   |    |  Drama


We the Animals (2018) Poster

Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood and push against the volatile love of their parents. As Manny and Joel grow into versions of their father and Ma dreams of escape, Jonah embraces an imagined world all on his own.


6.9/10
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  • Raúl Castillo and Evan Rosado in We the Animals (2018)
  • Josiah Gabriel in We the Animals (2018)
  • Raúl Castillo in We the Animals (2018)
  • Raúl Castillo and Sheila Vand in We the Animals (2018)
  • Evan Rosado in We the Animals (2018)
  • Sheila Vand and Evan Rosado in We the Animals (2018)

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1 October 2018 | jdesando
Realistic and fantastic, a perceptive and artistic look at three young brothers in an unselttled world.
"The young always have the same problem - how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another." Quentin Crisp

This year has arguably no more impressionist yet realistic narrative than We the Animals. Based on Justin Torres' autobiographical novel, it tells of three adolescent brothers from a mixed-race couple (she white, he Puerto Rican). They survive their parents' volatile relationship by creating their own fantasy world or simply hiding from abuse.

The discursive plot allows their world to become interrelated set pieces of watching their parents work out their conflicts with director Jeremiah Zagar's assured point of view frequently from the boys'. Occasionally levitation punctuates the story in a magic realism that gives a poetic gloss to the hardscrabble journey.

Among the many lovely angles is Ma (Sheila Vand) coddling the poetic Jonah (Evan Rosado), whose gradual discovery that he's gay is subtly handled. His notes and illustrations hidden under his bed provide a punctuation for the rough world above the blankets.

Despite the family's dismal blue-collar challenges in upper New York State, the boys show a resilience to give hope to an essentially unsettled life. The artfulness of the magical realism and Jonah's writings lend a sympathetic cast to the proceedings. Zagar and co-writer Daniel Kitrosser offer a home not entirely grungy, in fact rather tidy, that suggests order can prevail.

Symbolically the water motif, with images of drowning and rainy cleansing, helps coordinate the despair and hope inherent in the story. Nick Zammuto provides just the right low-key music of sadness and kindness. In all, the film coalesces around the challenges of disadvantaged boys surviving the rain into the sun.

It's not easy.

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." e. e. cummings

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Drama

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