Wolf – TIFF21


Wolf – TIFF21

A high-concept arthouse drama about a boy who believes he is a wolf.

A young man with Species Identity Disorder is sent to a clinic with controversial methods inย . Jacob () is a teenager who believes himself to be a wolf, who is admitted to a clinic meant to cure those with similar species dysphoria. While Dr. Angelie () uses very optimistic methods in her therapy session, the clinic's head Dr. Mann () opts for more cruel and controversial methods, purposely dehumanizing the patients. While at the clinic, Jacob develops a connection with long-term patient Cecile (), who believes herself to be a wildcat.

Wolf is a drama written and directed by Nathalie Biancheri, which can almost be described as if One Flew Over the Cucco's Nest had a cast of characters, who all believed themselves to be animals. On top of the leads of Jacob the Wolf and Cecile the Wildcat, over the course of the film we get to know Rufus the German shepherd (Fionn O'Shea), Judith the parrot (Lola Petticrew), Ivan the duck (Senan Jennings), Jeremy the squirrel (Darragh Shannon), Louise the horse (Elsa Fionuir), Annalisa the panda (Karise Yansen), and Ola the spider (Amy Macken). While the goal of this clinic is to “restore the humanity” of the patients, the methods of the cruel practitioner Dr. Mann are the most dehumanizing of all.

It is obvious that Nathalie Biancheri's ultimate goal with Wolf is to provide the optimistic message that we must accept people for their differences, no matter how strange or unconventional they may be. However, despite the film's metaphors about self-identity,ย Wolf is completely unrelenting with its depictions of cruelty, with the Paddy Considine's antagonist of Dr. Mann almost taking sadistic pleasure in the way he treats his patients. Combined with mixed messages with the film's ending,ย Wolf ends up being a bit of a misstep.

Wolf is screening as part of the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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