Based on the acclaimed novel, this lyrical coming-of-age tale weaves magical realism into an exquisite portrait of three brothers and their troubled parents—and the secret that Jonah (Evan Rosado), the youngest of the boys, holds. In his richly textured story of economic desperation and emotional bloom set in barren, industrial upstate New York, director Jeremiah Zagar draws amazingly soulful performances from his young leads. The three boys are wild, open, fiercely loving, and protective of each other, while their parents are damaged, veering from dysfunctional to nurturing, and only sometimes able to connect with their children and with each other. We the Animals presents the family without judgment, their story delicately unfolding from Jonah’s perspective. A gentle, baby-faced boy, his circumstances cause him to grow up fast, and, with this newfound maturity, he discovers a burgeoning sexuality that both confuses and excites him.
Jeremiah Zagar, director-screenwriter, born in South Philly, was raised by hippie artists. His feature film debut, In a Dream, showcasing his parents’ work, premiered at SXSW, and went on to be shortlisted for an Academy Award® and received two Emmy® nominations, including Best Documentary. His latest film, We the Animals, premiered at Sundance this year.
We the Animals is a visionary adaptation, confidently helmed by Zagar in his narrative feature directorial debut. The film’s dreamlike visuals are bolstered by Zak Mulligan’s gorgeous cinematography, while animated sequences by Mark Samsonovich offer a stunning look into Jonah’s imaginary world.