⋆⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for some coarse language.
Theater: Lagoon Cinema.
To say that the six brothers profiled in this documentary have had an unusual upbringing is to put it mildly. Raised in near-total isolation in a New York public housing complex — because of their Hare Krishna father’s paranoia about the outside world — the Angulo brothers were rarely allowed outside for most of their young lives. Ranging in age from 11 to 18 at the time that this remarkable film was shot, the siblings seem to have learned about life from two main sources: first their home-schooling mother, and then the cache of some 5,000 Hollywood movies that they own on DVD and VHS. Several of the movies have been lovingly re-created, in home-movie versions of such thrillers as “Reservoir Dogs” and “The Dark Knight,” with the boys casting themselves in all the roles. If this situation sounds like a recipe for disaster, “The Wolfpack” will surprise you. Although filmmaker Crystal Moselle tiptoes around the subject of psychological damage — five of the brothers are reportedly no longer on speaking terms with their father — the Angulo boys come across, in this compassionate portrait as astonishingly well adjusted, articulate and even forgiving. Moselle intercuts footage of the brothers’ filmmaking exploits with one-on-one interviews with the teens and their mother. Despite the nickname the boys chose for themselves — the Wolfpack — they resemble those apex predators not at all. In this disturbing yet uplifting true-life fable, they’re much more like exotic, yet oddly hardy, hothouse flowers.