Justin Torres’ We the Animals is a novel that tells a story about three boys and their journey into boyhood. Their father played by Raul Castillo, also known as Pa is Puerto Rican who comes from bad-boy roots and in between jobs. Pa abruptly disappears from their lives and the boys resenting their Pa for leaving them.
Justin Torres tells a story about boyhood that is relatable across the spectrum culturally and universally. Especially, in today's society where it has grown a norm to grow up without a father figure. This film becomes one of many coming of age movies in recent times.
The importance of this film showcases many cultural norms that have been challenged in today's society like sexuality and rebellion. Movies like Boyhood and Moonlight have gained recognition for their stories in preteen coming of age and we could expect the same for We the Animals. This film could capture the hearts of many Americans as it could relate to audiences across the country and worldwide.
We the Animals Is a One-of-a-Kind Movie Adapted From a Seemingly Unadaptable Novel
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Justin Torres’ We the Animals is a slim, lyrical gut-punch of a novel. Composed of vignettes that offer unfettered access to the interior life of their protagonist and little dialogue, it’s all formative feelings and scattered recollections that swing between the dreamily poetic and the painfully precise. These same qualities that make Torres’ semi-autobiographical debut so powerful would also seem to make it nearly impossible to adapt for the screen.
Director Jeremiah Zagar was determined to do so anyway, and he’s been open about first having tried and then discarded a more faithful translation from text to screen. Ultimately, he and fellow screenwriter Daniel Kitrosser, working closely with Torres himself, have emerged with a work that’s different in structure but remains true to the book’s essence—and one that stands apart from other coming-of-age stories as a result.
The heart of the film, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, remains the same: A young Puerto Rican father (Looking heartthrob Raúl Castillo) and a white mother (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night star Sheila Vand) navigate financial hardships and their own tempestuous marriage while raising three boys in upstate New York. The sons, left mostly to their own devices and alienated from the white inhabitants of their industrial town, rely on each other for companionship and protection—until the youngest, Jonah, begins to find himself diverging from the expected path.
Read more at Slate.com