Review: “Wolf Mother”



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Posted November 10, 2016 by

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Erik Peter Carlson has been firmly planted, in the middle of my “Directors to pay close attention to” list, since the release of his gut-wrenching, 2014 drama “The Toy Soldiers”. It was one of my top five films of that year, and featured two of my very favorite performances (Najarra Townsend and Constance Brenneman). So, needless to say, I was pretty thrilled when I saw that his next film “Wolf Mother” featured Townsend as the lead actress (and stunning poster girl) and Brenneman in a supporting role. I have been waiting patiently to see this film, and my patience has been rewarded with another excellent film from the young writer/director.

The story centers on Ben (Kevin Pinassi) a depressed, misogynistic thief who, after a bad turn of luck, encounters Zelda (Townsend) a former child actor who has had to turn to prostitution to make ends meet. The two strike up a not-so-friendly companionship, based on the fact that they are both ashamed of things they have done and feel a need to atone for their sins. Suicide is their shared first option, but neither of them can bring themselves to do it. Instead they decide to partner up, to do something profoundly good, by saving a kidnapped girl from a satanist gang called “The band”.

wolf-mother-2I enjoyed the hell out of “Wolf Mother”, and there are a few reasons why. Carlson once again shows he is a very capable director, and has a knack for telling stories with many emotional layers. “Wolf Mother” does not have the soul crushing bleakness of “The Toy Soldiers”, but it has something equally as effective. It has relatable characters, who’s personalities have an oddly compelling blend of tragedy and comedy. Having been someone who has struggled with depression throughout his life, I remember what it was like to feel like the only people who understood me were those that shared my feelings of despair. Those relationships aren’t always healthy ones, but once in a while they have a hugely positive effect. Ben and Zelda’s relationship is a rocky one, but it offers them both the comfort of being silently understood.

That element of Carlson’s story is elevated by two incredible performances. I expected something great from Najarra Townsend, because I know she is a great actress who is capable of carrying a film. What surprised me was how powerful a performance Kevin Pinassi gave. Pinassi starred in Carlson’s debut film (2012’s “Transatlantic Coffee”) and was very good in it, but here he is outstanding. Ben is the perfect example of a man who is rough around the edges, vulgar, and verbally abusive while hiding a vulnerable, sad soul underneath it all.

The supporting cast are all solid, the soundtrack kicks ass, and the story never lags. Pretty much my only complaint would be that the lovely miss Brenneman didn’t have more screen time, because she is amazing. Other than that, “Wolf Mother” succeeded at everything it set out to do. I strongly suggest checking it out, as soon as it is released and, in the meantime, watching Carlson’s other films.




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