In Theatres: 
Dec 03, 2021
Running Time: 
98 minutes

Wolf is the type of film that makes you respect actors who fully envelop their craft. It’s bizarre, awkward, and even imaginative at times. Like the animals its characters inhabit, the film embraces its own weirdness. There are the beginnings of a deeper and more complex discussion on identity, but Wolf only manages to scratch the surface.


Jacob (George MacKay) believes he is a wolf trapped inside of a human’s body and lives his life accordingly, crawling around on his hands and legs and howling at the moon. In an attempt to cure him of his illness, his parents send him to a clinic that specializes in rehabilitation. There, Jacob lives with other kids who believe they are various animals ranging from birds to spiders. There’s also Wildcat (Lily-Rose Depp), a girl who believes she’s a cat and who forms a close bond with Jacob. Run by the questionable methods of the Zookeeper (Paddy Considine), the clinic hopes to fix Jacob’s mind so he can return and be another contributing member of society.


What stands out most with Wolf is the dedication the actors bring to their roles in portraying all the different animals, especially George MacKay’s performance as a wolf. Crawling around on your hands and toes all day is not an easy feat (just try and do a bear crawl exercise for 20 seconds and you’ll quickly understand why). MacKay and the entire cast really do go all out to make audiences believe these characters see themselves as animals. It’s initially unnerving and awkward to see all these people crawl, growl, and squawk but that goes away as you learn more about the characters.


Identity is at the core of Wolf, and that is where things start to break apart. There are so many connections you can make, whether it's to gender norms or conversion therapy, but the film itself doesn’t take the opportunity to say anything about these social topics themselves. Wolf is void of any direct correlation, and at face value is simply a story about species dysphoria, a real life condition where people believe they’re animals. It leaves everything up to the audience to make the connection; one that is clearly not difficult to make. In doing so, however, the film itself struggles to say much of anything. It fails to convince you why they’re this way or who they really are. Showing people act like animals is one thing, but it’s far more interesting to try and understand what makes them behave that way, and Wolf is only interested in the former. 


By leaving so much on the table and leaving these connections of identity open to audience interpretation, the film itself doesn’t actually do much except crack open the door for discussion. That’s definitely a good thing, but Wolf could have been so much more had it fleshed its story out. It’s only the first bite and nowhere close to a full meal.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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