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Among Wolves

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Among Wolves Movie Poster Image
Docu follows Bosnian vets' efforts to heal village; cursing.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 94 minutes

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes helping others as a way to heal oneself. Looks at tragic aftermath of war, its ongoing devastation to individuals, and then finds hope in positive action, camaraderie.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Men who've suffered effects of war on their home ground find purpose and exhibit courage, unselfishness, teamwork, empathy, integrity. They then share their compassion and action with other, younger men whose livelihood and way of life are still impaired by that war. 

Violence

References to wartime violence.

Sex

A raucous party scene briefly includes two scantily dressed women in a sensual dance.

Language

"Crap," "whore," and many uses of "f--k." Some insults: "dumb as a rock," "retarded."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking (one party scene with heavy drinking). Characters smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Among Wolves is a documentary (with English subtitles) about a group of Bosnian war veterans who are passionately engaged in service to their community. Uniting as the "Wolves Moto Club" (a local motorcycle club), the men have taken responsibility for the well-being of Livno, their war-torn village still trying to recover from the effects of the Bosnian War (1992-1995). In addition to their efforts in the village, a significant part of the Wolves' work is the protection of a large herd of wild horses in the nearby countryside. With no narration and little music, Director Shawn Convey has opted to let the voices of the men guide the movie's viewers through their story. The men swear -- "f--k" is heard throughout -- and occasionally insult one another, but are close, a unique team with purpose that allows for individual recovery, as well. Expect some drinking, cigarette smoking; a rowdy party sequence includes drunkenness and a few shots of women dancing provocatively. Not meant for kids, this movie's mature themes and unhurried pacing make it best for older teens and adults. 

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What's the story?

"What do you do when a war is over?" is the question documentary filmmaker Shawn Convey asks in AMONG WOLVES. For Branko "Lija" Lijovic and others who've survived the Bosnian War, the answer is to try to heal their village and find purpose in helping others. Wolves Moto Club, made up of veterans like Lija and younger men who need purpose in their lives, has all the trappings of a "bike gang": the motorcycles, the leather jackets, an occasional raucous party. But in Livno, where years after a devastating war people are still hungry, jobs are scarce, and the young are leaving, the Wolves serve as guardians of precious resources and stewards of the community. They keep an orphanage in good repair, give blood, rebuild structures, and tend to a herd of horses who run wild on land that was once a minefield. Convey's camera follows the men as they go about their work, and his mic captures their songs and their laughter, thoughts, and memories. 

Is it any good?

This deliberately measured documentary, without embellishment, narration, or heightened conflict, tells a simple story with insightful views about healing, renewed purpose, and hope. In Among Wolves, the men of the Moto Club have found a way to cope with the aftermath of a war in their homeland. A devastating loss of life and ongoing poverty are the fruits of the Bosnian War, a bitter conflict, both territorial and religious in scope. The club's leader, Lija, holds the men to high standards, worthy of such a regiment of committed "soldiers." Viewers will visit old battle sites, artillery and transport locations, the town, and the countryside -- all while in the company of the men who have assumed charge for care of the surviving populations.

It's interesting to note that with the exception of a very few scenes that briefly look at the personal lives of two of the men, it's all about the Wolves, the relationships within that club, and their shared "warrior" history. Some may find it tedious -- lots of lengthy driving sequences and time taken for extended menial tasks -- while others will appreciate the intimacy of the moments, the beauty of the wild horses, and the integrity of the men who populate the film.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how movies set in other countries and/or time periods enrich our understanding of the world. Forgoing battle scenes and historical lessons, how did Among Wolves tell the story of the Bosnian War? Were you familiar with that war? Where would you go to find out more about it?

  • How does this film illustrate the notion that by helping others we help ourselves? Is there an answer to Lija's question, "What else should we be doing if not charity work?"

  • The purposes of documentary filmmaking are to entertain, inform, persuade, and/or inspire. Which category (or categories) best defines Among Wolves?

  • How does the movie emphasize such character strengths as teamwork, compassion, and perseverance?

Movie details

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