The Orchard | Release Date: August 17, 2018
6.2
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 26 Ratings
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Positive:
15
Mixed:
6
Negative:
5
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6
netflicSep 10, 2018
Another coming of age story, this time about three brothers growing up in a poor family.

The film is made in a very artsy way. There is no straight narrative, it feels more like a dotted line made of impressions. The brothers are very happy
Another coming of age story, this time about three brothers growing up in a poor family.

The film is made in a very artsy way. There is no straight narrative, it feels more like a dotted line made of impressions.

The brothers are very happy together and seem to be inseparable.
While two older brothers will probably turn into two copies of their macho father, the youngest one of the three is an artist and puts all his life experiences into his secret sketch notebook.

Outstanding cinematography and very strong acting.

I did not like the ending though. To me it seemed to be an artificial and unnecessary twist.

Overall, I did enjoy watching it but your mileage might very.
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1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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6
TVJerrySep 11, 2018
This film starts as 3 young brothers tear thru their summer; running, screaming and full of life. It doesn't develop into a traditional narrative, but offers episodic glimpses of their family with lots of artistic flourishes. Their parents'This film starts as 3 young brothers tear thru their summer; running, screaming and full of life. It doesn't develop into a traditional narrative, but offers episodic glimpses of their family with lots of artistic flourishes. Their parents' tumultuous relationship creates most of the conflict, but it's told thru the eyes of the youngest brother. He has an inner life that's expressed in flights of fantasy and intense drawings (animated for extra impact). It takes some time for the story to come into focus, but once it does there's an interesting new layer that makes it sweeter. Still, it's more ambitious, artsy observation than compelling character study. Expand
1 of 3 users found this helpful12
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2
GreatMartinSep 17, 2018
I stopped hating people about 40 years ago just as I stopped hating ‘things’ 30 years ago but I have never stopped hating movies that I walk out of thinking “What the hell was that about?”, going home, reading a dozen critics that raved aboutI stopped hating people about 40 years ago just as I stopped hating ‘things’ 30 years ago but I have never stopped hating movies that I walk out of thinking “What the hell was that about?”, going home, reading a dozen critics that raved about the movie and not understanding what they are raving about!

I hate a 90-minute movie that seems like 3 hours and gets nowhere and worse than all I hate talking about the movie and thinking people will point a finger at me saying I am writing spoilers when how can it be a spoiler when it doesn’t add or diminish from a nonstory?

Is “We the Animals” about 3 brothers constantly running here and there, screaming, robbing a store, at one point having nothing to eat, at another being thrown into the water so he will learn to swim or their beating on their father or being shirtless most of the time? Is it summertime or is it they just don’t go to school?

Or is it about kids running around without supervision just so the director can have camerawork showing kids being kids and being like all kids would like to be when they don’t have to answer to adults?

Is it about a kid realizing he is gay? Is it about a supposed pedophile? Is it an excuse to show some porn?

Is it about a man beating his wife who he loves and her staying because she loves him? Is it about the parents loving their children though both working different jobs at night so the kids have to sleep where the father works?

Is it about life for one family in Utica, New York?

The 3 kids play their roles, the dad is masculine looking, a loser but not shown that way with all he has, the mother acts stronger and weaker than the role calls for and the few supporting characters do what is asked of them except the one that might or not be a pedophile.

I don’t know what “We the Animals” is about so please go and tell me what you saw and heard, aside from some beautiful set scenes with kids being kids, brothers being brothers, when they are left alone.
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1 of 4 users found this helpful13
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7
JLuis_001Nov 24, 2018
A pretty good coming of age story that somehow feels like a distant relative to Beast of the Southern Wild. Maybe it's just me but I don't know, it gave me that feeling
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7
amheretojudgeNov 24, 2018
Zagar's exploring drama about the right and wrong thrives on surprisingly being diplomatic and complicated to the core.

We The Animals Zagar's exploring drama about the right and wrong thrives on surprisingly being diplomatic and
Zagar's exploring drama about the right and wrong thrives on surprisingly being diplomatic and complicated to the core.

We The Animals

Zagar's exploring drama about the right and wrong thrives on surprisingly being diplomatic and complicated to the core. As much as simple and linear the narration is, its sensibility to be fair, and not feeling obliged to be self-righteous, is what marks this tale in a map. One of the primary strength of the feature is the relationship and equations of the characters. It is balanced. If a husband hits his wife, then so does she. It is not a perfect relationship. And that is what makes it more human. The apt depiction of the current society that we live in is put upfront on the screen which also makes it inedible to watch at times.

The fatal attempts of going towards the storyline is a classic textbook procedure that is adapted in here. The execution is genuinely effective and the work done by the maker foliates it onto the screen with bright colors. Speaking of which, the animation is an essential part of the tale. It speaks a lot that cannot be either shown or acted out. And amidst all the structure of the script, the voids are filled in by the clips of children playing on a field or river or forests. These little tactics of how they run their households on and how they feed themselves is well researched by the team and brilliantly installed in the narration.

In fact, such bits often reminds you of Malick's masterpiece "The Tree Of Life". Aforementioned, the ongoing thoughts of a child like such, that is exploring newer things with the most one dimensional simple thinking, ought to be hard for the writers to write, and it is handled marvelously in here. Ticking for around ninety minutes, the storytelling could have been edited out but considering the time it takes to chew its content and the additional inputs to justify each action, is done with so ingenuity, that in the end it pays off.

With jaw dropping visuals, stunning live locations, caressing the nature with the lens and metaphorical cinematography, this visual galore is a delight to watch. And having said that, it doesn't suggest that it is always easy to watch this family grow. The storyline does wander off into places that scares you with its harrowing innuendos that makes your heart skip a bit. And to make you feel that, Zagar takes you with its lead characters to an emotional journey that fluctuates and depicts all of its sides. The performance by the cast is convincing throughout the course of the feature especially the younger cast that are equally challenging to the elder ones.

Personally I prefer it when the characters in here realizes the fundamental concept and are about to take bold decisions against all odds rather than exploring their options. For actually, whilst writing such an "easy" part of the storytelling, often or not, the writers gets distracted and either misses or skips a few beat or over chews its substance. We The Animals is not groundbreaking on concept, structure or narration, what it gets right is conveying a good old message with a good old tale.
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7
Bertaut1Jun 22, 2019
A poignant and poetic evocation of childhood

A remarkably contained and intimate story featuring only five main cast members, We the Animals is about a young boy awakening to his homosexuality. Equal parts lyricism and grittiness, the film
A poignant and poetic evocation of childhood

A remarkably contained and intimate story featuring only five main cast members, We the Animals is about a young boy awakening to his homosexuality. Equal parts lyricism and grittiness, the film looks at how the crystallising of one's perception of the world goes hand-in-hand with a loss of innocence. Less concerned with narrative beats and character arcs than with tone and visual poetry, the film operates in a similar magical realist key as Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), whilst also calling to mind the Texas scenes of The Tree of Life (2011). And although the narrative could be accused of being a little insubstantial, this is an effective and poignant evocation of childhood.

Set in upstate New York in the 1990s, the film tells the story of nine-year-old Jonah (Evan Rosado), who lives with his Ma (Sheila Vand) and Paps (Raúl Castillo), and two slightly older brothers, Manny (Isaiah Kristian) and Joel (Josiah Gabriel). Existing just above the poverty line, the family is tightly-knit but dysfunctional, with Ma and Paps both prone to lashing out violently. When a neighbouring boy shows the brothers a porn movie, Jonah is taken aback when he reacts so strongly to a brief clip of two men having sex.

We the Animals is the fiction debut of Jeremiah Zagar, and was written for the screen by Zagar and Daniel Kitrosser, from Justin Torres's semi-autobiographical 2011 novel. Much like the novel, rather than presenting a classically structured plot, the film is instead composed of vignettes presented in a broadly chronological manner. Essentially a bildungsroman, the film covers some of the same thematic ground as Moonlight (2016), albeit it with a more esoteric tone. In a similar manner, although its depiction of the brothers' mischief recalls The Florida Project (2017), We the Animals is far more lyrical.

Initially the trio are presented as relatively indistinguishable from one another, but this begins to change as Jonah's self-awareness grows and he begins to withdraw from his siblings. At the same time, the voiceover narration becomes less frequent. Tied into this are the crayon pictures which he draws which change from innocent doodling to sexualised and violent images. Also important is how well Zagar uses the mise en scène to suggest psychology; as the film progresses, we see less of Jonah huddled under the bed covers with his brothers, and more of him alone under his bed. Zagar's documentarian background is also noticeable in his use of the techniques of cinéma vérité. In terms of focalisation, the film is tied rigidly to Jonah's perspective. In a general sense, this can be seen in the frequency with which cinematographer Zak Mulligan places the camera at Jonah's eye level. A more specific example involves a scene when Paps is arguing with another man off-camera; we can hear the voices, but not clearly, because neither can Jonah. Also important is that the film is shot on grainy Super 16, predominately with wide lenses and a shallow depth of field, robbing the image of sheen and depth, and thus foregrounding the impreciseness of memory, as if we are looking at events through gauze, half-remembered and half-embellished, as if there is no distinction between past and present, which reminded me a little of Mirror (1975) and Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988).

Thematically, although the film deals with domestic violence, Paps isn't the only one guilty of such behaviour; Ma is also shown as possessing a violent temper. Some of the dialogue also carries darker implications. For example, Ma tells Jonah that when children are 10, they leave their parents, asking him, "promise me you'll stay mine forever." When he asks how, she says, "you're not 10, you're 9+1". There's a beauty to this sentiment, but so too is there something unhealthy about it.

In terms of problems, for all its lyricism, the film never really says anything new, and it suffers in comparison to masterworks such as Tree of Life and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Another issue is that there is a sense that Zagar is more interested in lyricism than emotion; in trying to convey Jonah's interiority through abstract visual poetry, he neglects the issue of emotional realism. This should be a heartbreaking film, but it isn't, mainly because the characters exist primarily to facilitate philosophical musing, rather than as unique entities in themselves.

That aside, however, We the Animals is an impressive debut. Very much focused on the impressionistic and chaotic nature of memory, it depicts a young life yet to be fully formed, with its inconclusive ending reminding us that life doesn't have a three-act structure. And this might be the film's crowning achievement; in a story about the past and how we access it, the final impression with which it leaves us is that we can never know what lies in our future.
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8
movieducationNov 21, 2018
WE THE ANIMALS is so close to home. It is beautiful, it is poetic, sometimes it is toxic yet I can’t get enough of it. A coming-of-age story that really knows when to be a kid and when everything starts to really matter. It's like MoonlightWE THE ANIMALS is so close to home. It is beautiful, it is poetic, sometimes it is toxic yet I can’t get enough of it. A coming-of-age story that really knows when to be a kid and when everything starts to really matter. It's like Moonlight and Tree of Life have a baby ! Expand
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9
CenerentolaMar 3, 2019
A man, a woman, three boys, and a world full of turbulent emotion. Two of the boys seem to emulate their parents while one externalizes his pain through drawings that crudely convey a striking range of emotion. How will it end? Fortunately,A man, a woman, three boys, and a world full of turbulent emotion. Two of the boys seem to emulate their parents while one externalizes his pain through drawings that crudely convey a striking range of emotion. How will it end? Fortunately, the denouement is left to the viewer's imagination. Not for children of any age. Expand
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