A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The importance of having the freedom to be your authentic self. The film questions the concept of a "normal" life and whether it is always the best option.
Positive Role Models
Characters aren't explored in great depth beyond their perceived disorder. Jacob shows concern for others, both human and animal, and a natural instinct to step in to protect them. But he also shows a potentially dangerous wild side. Those who work at the facility are seen as controlling and lacking in empathy, with The Zookeeper in particular portrayed as aggressive and abusive.
There is some diversity within the cast, both in terms of race and body type, though these characters are not given major parts. Gender roles are not particularly prevalent in the film, with characters portrayed fairly equally, though the most intense forms of aggression are attributed to male characters. Many of the characters suffer from the same perceived disorder -- species dysphoria -- though their experiences are not explored in much psychological depth, giving them very little nuance.
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Violence & Scariness
There is TV footage of animals eating other animals, with close-ups of ripped flesh, and a gun is used to shoot animals in a video game. A dead dog is thrown through a glass window with some blood on the body. Characters are seen in extreme psychological distress, pushed to the ground, pressured to jump from a great height, have their noses rubbed in urine, are hit in the face, and are aggressively verbally abused. There are scenes with characters dressed in collars and pulled by chains, blindfolded, gagged, locked in cages, and stunned by an electric animal prod. A fingernail is seen to snap off. Items are thrown in rage. There is passing mention of a plane crash, cannibalism, beating, and starvation.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Nudity is shown, including buttocks and breasts. Characters kiss and there is sexual touching. Also the implication of further sexual activity off-screen, though the acts aren't specified. There is some sexualized behavior while characters are acting as wild animals.
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There are a few instances of "f--k" in one scene, but no other strong language. Some gender-based threats including one character saying, "Don't you remember what happens to pretty girls like you who have nothing?"
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wolf is an art house drama about species dysphoria, a real-life disorder in which people believe they're animals. It has adult themes, nudity, and distressing scenes, and the overall tone is dark (with occasional mild humor) and the pace fairly slow. Main character Jacob (George MacKay) is convinced that he's a wolf and is subsequently sent to a psychological facility to be treated. The treatment Jacob and the other patients receive is often abusive, both physically and mentally, and there's cruelty and violence. This includes characters being locked in a cage and poked with electric animal prods. There are a few instances of the word "f--k" in one scene, but no strong language elsewhere. Nudity and sexual touching are shown, with the implication of further sexual acts off-screen. Lily-Rose Depp co-stars. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Writer and director Nathalie Biancheri's sophomore film is certainly ambitious, but doesn't quite make the impact its complex themes and artsy cinematography seem to promise. At the center of Wolf, and what holds it together, is a performance from MacKay that is both restrained and fully committed -- supported by a similarly impressive turn from Depp. They bring much-needed nuance to a narrative that is often clunky and over-simplistic, which feels at odds with the movie's off-kilter style. Paddy Considine's aggressive Zookeeper is lacking in substance, veering into two-dimensional stereotype. In addition, the portrayal of the psychological methods used in the facility feels overly familiar and very one-note -- though it certainly gets the job done in terms of them appearing inhumane.
There are moments of great visual flair. These include dimly-lit scenes that illuminate the animalistic nature of the lean and muscular Jacob, as well as some quirky shots, which tightly frame Depp's face -- that is adorned with whiskers -- accentuating her naturally feline-like features. All of which adds to the shame that the whole thing doesn't quite feel cohesive, throwing out some potentially interesting themes, but never really leaning into them, and offering a strong aesthetic and intriguing tone that is never fully realized.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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