(director/writer: Nathalie Biancheri; cinematographer: Michal Dymek; editor: Andonis Trattos; music: Stefan Wesolowski; cast:  Lily-Rose Depp (Wildcat), Georges MacKay (Jacob), Paddy Considine (The Zookeeper), Lola Petticrew (Parrot), Elsa Fionir (Horse) Sennan Jennings (Duck), Darragh Shannon (Jeremy, Squirrel), Mary Lou McCarthy (German Shepherd’s mother), Leo Hanna (Almost Out), Karise Yansen (Annalisa), Fionn O’Shea (German Shepherd), Terry Notary (Lion Man), Eileen Walsh (Therapist); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Jessie Fisk, Jane Doolan: Focus Features; 2021)

At a 100 minutes you deserve a treat if you sit through it.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An offbeat and humorless allegory that plays out as an artsy curiosity piece. It’s written and directed by Nathalie Biancheri(“Nocturnal”/”I Was Here”) without making a deep inner connection with all its animal-like characters.

 It was shot in Ireland. 

The youngster, Jacob (George McKay), believes he’s a wolf and he’s not too happy about that. He howls at the moon (which goes for proof) and at times mauls others. His concerned mom brings him to a treatment clinic that treats patients with species dysphoria. The center’s patients take on the identity of the animal they identify with. Other stand-out patients include the cheery German Shepherd Rufus (Fionn O’Shea) and the feisty Wildcat (Lily-Rose Depp).

We’re introduced to the head honcho, Dr. Mann, the doctor referred to as The Zookeeper (Paddy Considine), a sadistic conversion therapy leader. It’s established through his ‘mad scientist’ role that Wolf plays out as a metaphor of the trans experience (same conversion principles used on gays as on the animal-like characters). The staff allows for no monkey business for its collection of patients who can’t help thinking they are birds, dogs, squirrels, lions, horses, spiders and various other creatures.

Kudos for Biancheri, who sympathizes with the patients and finds contempt for the unsympathetic healthcare workers.

But I couldn’t even take this muddled allegory seriously even in a semi-serious manner and just shut the pic down as a misfire. It’s the kind of film Ed Wood Jr. should be directing, even if he does it from beyond the grave. At a 100 minutes you deserve a treat if you sit through it.

REVIEWED ON 12/11/2021  GRADE: C-