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We the Animals

We the Animals: In this very interesting coming-of-age story, three brothers – Manny, Jonah, and Joel – live with their Puerto Rican parents in upstate New York. The parents have difficulty staying together – they work long hours to try to make ends meet, and mom suffers from bouts of depression that are set in motion as a result of the abuse of her husband. Through it all, the three boys stick together and find their own way. Jonah, the youngest, is the most sensitive of the three and uses his art to navigate the emotional and physical changes that are happening to him. I loved this film. The actors are all unknowns, yet they create a formidable screen presence; the chemistry among the three boys is incredible given their acting inexperience. Evan Rosado, who plays Jonah, is amazing; he has penetrating and sometimes haunting eyes that communicate so much emotion. The story is told principally through the eyes of the three boys; thus, the story moves from activity to activity in the way that life unfolds for young boys. I loved the way the score was used to enhance the story as well as the way Jonah’s art was brought to life to convey what was happening to him and his family. I also appreciated that the coming of age experience is with a young boy who is somewhat younger than typical. I also loved the way the film ended. Big thumbs up for me for a film that reminded me a lot of the Florida Project, another film whose director captures so well the lives of those living on the fringes and from the eyes of the children. The movie is very gritty and “arty”, so it may not appeal to all. If you like coming of age, art-house variety films, this one should be on your list.

About Gary Burkholder

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