The best films are able to beautifully capture the breath of an already beloved story, land the right actors to portray its parts, and make the viewer feel part of the narrative. The movie adaptation of Justin Torres’ critically acclaimed novel, We the Animals, is seemingly that and more, based on its trailer alone.
Filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar translates the coming-of-age story of three young brothers (Manny, Joel and Jonah) to the screen, while delving into layers of complicated family dynamics. The handsome Raúl Castillo plays the role of papa, and Sheila Vand, best known for her role in the Oscar-winning film Argo, plays Ma. Though they’ll likely both earn praise for their portrayals, it’s Jonah (Evan Rosado) who walks us through the story, flipping back and forth from a high/lowlight reel of his childhood to a fantasy world he’s created, which we’re invited into via animated sequences.
Together, they have to figure out how to survive with a lack of resources, difficulty expressing love, and a mother’s wish to never let her children go. Less than a minute into the trailer, Vand says, “Promise me you’ll stay mine forever,” to which Jonah wonders, “How?” And she replies, “Simple. You’re not 10. You’re 9 plus 1.” That’s when I realized I will for sure not be able to maintain emotional composure when watching this movie, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and hits theaters on August 17.