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Raul Castillo and Evan Rosado in We the Animals.

The Orchard

  • We the Animals
  • Directed by: Jeremiah Zagar
  • Written by: Jeremiah Zagar and Daniel Kitrosser
  • Starring: Isaiah Kristian, Josiah Gabriel, and Evan Rosado
  • Classification: 14A
  • 94 minutes

rating

3 out of 4 stars

When Jeremiah Zagar’s We the Animals played the Sundance Film Festival this past January, critics were eager to draw comparisons. There were the similarities to Moonlight, with the film focusing on the formative years of a young boy (Evan Rosado’s Jonah) who must deal with a fractured family unit and a quiet but unceasing sense that he was different than those around him. There were touches of The Florida Project, as a good portion of the film is content to simply follow the youthful, but hardly wholesome, antics of Jonah and his latchkey-kid brothers. And there was Zagar’s propensity for wilderness-set magic-hour shots, reminiscent of Beasts of the Southern Wild. But We the Animals is more than simply the sum of others' parts. For his first narrative feature, the documentarian Zagar displays a thrillingly sensitive eye for the curiosity and caution that exists in every young child’s heart, and how it is so simple for the world to crush that. Working mostly with non-professional actors, Zagar also wrings some heartbreaking performances out of his young cast, especially Rosado, whose Jonah seems teetering at the edge of something he may never understand.

We the Animals opens Aug. 24 in Toronto and Aug. 31 in Vancouver before expanding to other Canadian cities in the fall.

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