Monday 23 September 2019

We the Animals review: 'The joys and fears of childhood are wonderfully evoked'

4 stars

We the Animals
We the Animals
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

The joys and fears of childhood are wonderfully evoked in this intense and painterly drama from Jeremiah Zagar.

We the Animals is based on a 2011 semi-autobiographical novel by Justin Torres, and set in the 1990s in a ratty town in upstate New York, where three young brothers live with their Puerto Rican parents.

The story is told through the eyes of Jonah (Evan Rosado), the youngest brother who’s about to turn ten and is becoming aware of subtle differences between he and his siblings.

He draws compulsively, is sensitive, and struggles to come to terms with the ups and downs of his parents’ volatile relationship.

Paps (Raul Castillo) and Ma (Sheila Vand) met when they were teenagers, and raising three kids in poverty has put enormous strains on them.

Paps alternates between fierce love and outbursts of rage, most memorably during a nightmarish swimming lesson.

Shot mainly in grainy 16mm, We the Animals draws you into an intimate, frightening world.

(No Cert, IFI, 93mins)

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