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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

We the Animals
(Blu-ray & DVD Dual Format)


Starring: Evan Rosado, Raúl Castillo, Sheila Vand, Isaiah Kristian and Josiah Gabriel
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £15.95 (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 16 September 2019

Set in the 1980s, We The Animals ( is an impressionistic story of three young boys of a mixed race family, Paps, Puerto Rican, (Raúl Castillo) and Ma, white, (Sheila Vand) who have moved out of Brooklyn to Utica, New York for better jobs which turn out to be a mirage. Depressed income leads to depressed family life and their three boys spend a lot of time on their own. The two older boys, (Isaiah Kristian and Josiah Gabriel) tend to model after their father while the youngest, Jonah (Evan Rosado) retreats, often under his bed, to write and draw and live in his own world, the universe of the nascent artist, and, one gets the strong feeling, the voice of novelist Justin Torres. We see Jonah’s visions in animation sequences inside his head, furthering the impressionist imprint of the whole film.

Dialogue is sometimes hard to follow because of slang and diction. This is irrelevant because the body language is so articulate and the editorial pace so swift that theme, narrative and character arcs are never less than operatically lucid. Maybe nondiscursive but always definite. Cinematic haiku. One reviewer has called it immersive and that is true. If we were sitting in his house watching Jonah and his family, we would know no more than we would seeing the film. It is novelistic in feel, a transmission of the interstitial facts of life, beyond mere words.

The ‘little’ film grossed nearly a half million dollars worldwide, helped by the awards it won and accolades from the Sundance Film Festival. Its finance came partly from grants supplementing boutique companies and all helped by community support and sweat equity. Cinematographer Zack Mulligan shot day sequences with an Arri 416 super 16 and Sony A7 and night for night with the stunning RED Weapon digital unit. The lovingly utilized VFX is worth the purchase price for cinephiles alone and the extras show how this is brought to bear in a show-print that is nothing less than lustrous.

Some of the VFX are obvious but many others are sneaky and so well embedded that the extras docu garners respect and is worthwhile education. The Eureka dual format presentation captures all the resilience.

We The Animals is the future of film, reminding us movie making is accessible to populist artists without mega millions and conglomerate studio glitz. There is much here for liberation-minded viewers (sexuality, drugs, peer conformity, modelling oppression, violence, crime) but the most oppressed figure is the artist Jonah who doesn’t have honour in his own family. The ending knows this is the pinnacle of the story’s pain. This reviewer dares you not to wince as Jonah lifts the lid on the trashcan. It took courage to commit to a vision of impressionism but the success here is well worth the risk, both for the filmmakers and viewers.


John Huff

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