'We the Animals' continually wafts away into artiness

The movie, which focuses on a trio of brothers, is all nuance with no clear sense of place.

Courtesy of The Orchard
Raul Castillo (L.) and Evan Rosado (R.) in 'We The Animals.'

I wish I could join in the near-unanimous chorus of huzzahs for the Sundance fave "We the Animals," a "poetic" slice of coming-of-age impressionism about three biracial brothers and their warring/loving parents.

The boys, all pre-teens, are non-actors, and it shows, as it did not in, for example, “The Florida Project,” where the little kids seemed remarkably fresh and untutored. The youngest of the boys, Jonah (Evan Rosado), who is nine, is the film’s main focus, and his comprehension of his parents’ animosities and his own burgeoning, ambiguous sexual identity is, as depicted here, understated to a fault.

The movie is all nuance and it continually wafts away into artiness. The director and co-writer, Jeremiah Zagar, comes out of documentaries, but his movie has no clear sense of place. The family lives in a ramshackle home in upper New York state, but the film’s real provenance is the same dreary, diaphanous landscape of cinemagic best left to the likes of Terrence Malick and his woozy ilk. Grade: C (Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some underage drug and alcohol use.) 

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