Irish filmmaker Nathalie Biancheri in this bizarre and surrealist film seems to be trying to evoke the spirit of the genius Greek George Lanthimos and thematically and pleasantly acts “Wolf” a bit on the trail of “Lobster”. The environment here is somehow dystopian, not from this world, and yet earthly, absurd, grotesque, but also somehow overemphasized, which is why this high-concept parable may not have fully functioned. Already in the introductory scene we see a young man who we will soon learn to be called Jacob (George McKay from “1914”) bawling naked in the woods and behaving as if he were some wild animal. Just as the name of the film suggests, Jacob thinks he is a wolf, and after he attacks his brother, his parents will make him an institution for the mentally ill.
And one would not believe, in this bizarre madhouse there are several other similar teenagers who also think they are some animals. There is a girl who thinks she is a parrot, another is convinced that she is a horse, one boy is sure that he is a squirrel, another that he is a German shepherd, etc., and to make the situation bizarre, everyone acts as if such a condition is something happens. Admittedly, claims a doctor who has rather extreme methods in treating such cases, Dr. Mann who calls himself Zookeper (Paddy Considine) that such a disorder is called Species Identities Disorder or Species Dysphoria. Just as obviously in reality there are mentally ill people who are convinced that some other people are, so here there are people, mostly young people who are convinced that they are not human at all, but some other animal species.
While Dr. Mann has extreme methods in which he tries to push patients over the edge to convince them that they are not animals (a girl who thinks he is a parrot he tries to persuade to jump out of a window to see if he can fly), there is a doctor who has a more psychoanalytic approach and the two often clash over different methods. Jacob can’t adjust to life in the institution, and soon he will be close to a girl (Lily-Rose Depp) who is convinced that she is a wild cat and who has been imprisoned in that institution for years. While this whole situation might seem ridiculous, there is no reason to laugh at all and the tone of this whole film is very serious, uncomfortable and a bit dark.
But, although everything is completely bizarre and surreal from the beginning, Biancheri managed not to turn it into a caricature and a joke, because in time the viewer seems to start believing all those unfortunates who are struggling with a serious disorder and who are trying socialize and be normal, but their animal instincts seem to be too strong and do not allow them to adapt. And while the vast majority of patients still manage to somehow suppress their animal backs and try to pretend to be ordinary people for their own well-being, Jacob fails to do so. When he begins to get closer to the Wild Cat, he seems to be less and less able to suppress and hide his wolfish, wild side, which will lead him into serious trouble with the sadistic Zookeeper. “Wolf” can also be seen as a bizarre parable, an allegory about people who cannot or do not want to fit into society and agree to be what they really are not. Although the idea and even the performance were not bad, this film did not work as well as “Lobster”.
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