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DCA Archive

We The Animals

Jeremiah Zagar

Documentarian Jeremiah Zagar moves into narrative features with We The Animals, a 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. Spanning over the heat of a long summer, it grapples with the teenage quest for freedom and curiosity towards sexuality with an honesty that will linger in your thoughts long after it finishes.

"Lyrical, impressionistic, arrestingly beautiful and strongly performed..."

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. 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 heart-breaking film explores the animalism of young children alongside that of violent, warring adults. Whether it takes a while to unravel its meaning or forms an instant connection, this film is for the curious thinker, the closeted creator and most of all, the one willing to delve into its depth of feeling.