Film review: Wolf by Nathalie Biancheri | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, June 27th, 2022  


Studio: Focus Features
Director: Nathalie Biancheri

Nov 29, 2021 Web Exclusive
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Nathalie Biancheri’s Wolf is a thriller that solely attempts to coast off of the shocking nature of its initial premise, feeling more tiring than captivating as a result.

The film follows Jacob (George MacKay), a young man who suffers from “species identity disorder,” specifically, the belief that he is a wolf. Sent to a specialized therapeutic center by his parents, Jacob initially distances himself from his fellow patients who believe that they are a variety of different animals, ranging from squirrel to parrot. He especially stays clear of the center’s “doctor,” named “The Zookeeper” (Paddy Considine), who uses a variety of methods–mainly, physical and verbal humiliation–to try and cure the patients of their maladies.

At night, Jacob roams around the compound, attempting to find a place where he can walk on all fours and howl in peace. One night, he crosses paths with Wildcat (Lily Rose-Depp), a mysterious and distant figure who believes that she is a cat. The two form a bond, spending their nights exploring the facility and acting as a member of their species. Jacob’s increasingly wolf-like tendencies catch the eye of The Zookeeper though, who attempts to use his dangerous and often violent methods to stop Jacob’s demeanor for good.

While the initial concept of Wolf is fascinating and somewhat unique, Biancheri’s film is anything but. The film’s plot doesn’t give Jacob’s character any significant backstory, instead beginning immediately with his arrival at the treatment center and taking its time to reveal exactly how he acts like a wolf. As a result, the character isn’t initially given any qualities or emotions for viewers to sympathize with, making it difficult to connect with his character in a notable and compelling way. This especially becomes an issue in the film’s second half, when the story focuses on Jacob’s and Wildcat’s relationship. Without taking the time to build either of their backstories, their connection, which sets the basis for a good amount of the film, feels incredibly forced and as a result, disinteresting.

Additionally, Wolf feels directionless. The film moves from scene to scene in a jaded and disconnected way, choosing more often to emphasize the “shocking” nature of what is going on than addressing the meaning, importance and implications of each scene. The result is a film that feels tonally inconsistent and lacking, never presenting a clear and coherent message for viewers to take away. It’s difficult to understand not only what is happening, but why it is happening as well, making character motivations seem even more cloudy in the process. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the film didn’t take itself as seriously as it does, constantly attempting to say something on an unclear and potentially non-existent theme.

By far, the best part of Wolf is the film’s performances. As always, MacKay absolutely shines as Jacob, excellently portraying both the demeanor and physicality that is necessary to sell the premise of his character and the film itself. While Rose-Depp’s character has less of a presence throughout the film, she equals MacKay in the scenes they share. Both actors work incredibly hard to showcase how deeply intertwined their characters are, which is especially notable given that the film’s uneven and forgettable story cannot convincingly demonstrate that. (

Author rating: 4/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10


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