LFF 2021: The Wolf Suit – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 14 minutes, Director – Sam Firth

Director Sam Firth looks back at, and attempts to recreate, her parents divorce, and her own childhood, based on their accounts and her own personal memories.

“In some ways I’ve been making this film since I was a teenager” states director Sam Firth towards the start of her documentary feature The Wolf Suit. It’s an undeniably highly personal project for her as she looks back at her early childhood, particularly around the time of her parents divorce. Through recreations of memories and events in all their lives she attempts to work out what happened, with most of her memories being happy ones of family fun and bonding. However, that’s not how things are seen by everyone else, particularly the differing perspectives of her parents who haven’t spoken for many years. Firth claims “I could use drama and filmmaking to prove that everything is not subjective” as she assembles actors and a small production team to craft recreations of her families life before her parents broke apart.

There’s certainly something interesting within the recreations and the way the actors try to understand who they are playing – asking the real life figures, present on set at almost all times, for help in what their mindset should be at the time; despite occasionally conflicting feedback and personal memories. It enhances the point that the film is trying to capture what’s described as “the confusing, contradictory and sometimes painful course that is life”. It’s something that each figure appears to be reliving to different extents over the short 74 minute course of the film. Each one adding a new personal angle to the piece as a whole.

Whether this personal feel is enough to completely connect with the audience is a different matter. While there’s certainly a level of interest in what’s happening on-screen it’s not always the most involving as the viewer often doesn’t have the same amount of connection to the project as those who are actually a part of it; and lived through it the first time round. This is particularly the case when the filming of the recreations is occurring, as the piece travels along one generally direct line for much of this time. It’s during such moments that it’s likely a good thing that the film is as short as it is, risking feeling somewhat lengthy if it were much longer.

Yet, there’s still something engaging about the personal angles that are brought to the film and the differing memories and perceptions of what Firth sees as such big events in not just her own life but those of her family as a whole. It’s a key point of engagement for the viewer as they observe the various different stages of the process of physically remembering. While you might not quite feel the same level of involvement as those actually present in the unfolding moments there’s still an interesting enough piece here, especially when looking at differing memory-based perspective, that spans the short 74 minute run-time rather well.

Clearly a very personal film for those involved, this feeling doesn’t always echo to the viewers of The Wolf Suit. While memory recreations generally travel across one line there’s plenty of interest to be found in the differing views and perspectives of life events.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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