A Modern Fairy Tale

Amos Lassen

“The  True Adventures of Wolfboy” is the first feature by Czech-born director Martin Krejcí  and is the story of an outsider child desperate to fit in. Its message, the importance of embracing differences, is a valuable one for its most likely younger audience. 

Jaeden Martell is Paul, a 13-year-old afflicted with hypertrichosis; a rare condition which sees his entire face and body covered in hair. He lives alone with his father, Denny (Chris Messina). His mother abandoned them when he was born. Paul is tormented by bullies and self-loathing.  The film opens with the father taking his son to a fairground for his birthday so that Paul could reveal himself to the world in a dignified manner, in the hope that this will help him overcome his fears. This is an optimistic plan but it goes awry. Later that night, Paul discovers a package seemingly from his mother, with a map and an address in another city and he runs away from home to find her. 

Unfortunately we do not have a backstory and do not know how father and son have coped thus far. Therefore, we see as having just come to life. Adventures follow for Paul. A shady carnival impresario Mr. Silk (John Turturro), briefly turns the boy into an attraction, a transgender girl, Artisana (Sophie Giannamore) and Rose (Eve Hewson) come into the picture as does an eye-patched delinquent. Artisana and Rose join Paul in the search for his mother with Silk, Denny and the police in pursuit. 

While the plot is somewhat familiar (the youngsters rob convenience stores to fuel their road trip, the detective is always one step behind), there is a tone is of whimsy. Director Krejčíengages viewers in a world of harsh reality and vigorous imagination as it tells the story of a boy who fights the feelings of rejection he has felt his whole life.The narrative is structured as a seven-chapter fairy tale, as we witness the hero’s journey. Set in the poor American suburbs, this is not the typical middle-class teenage film with the commonplace message that it’s important to love yourself. The film explores identities both in the sense of the characters it depicts and the genres it encompasses – that step away from the norm. It’s a magical story set in a gritty environment, featuring heroic characters who are filled with frustration.

The film tackles social topics of this particular economic milieu (which is not often represented on screen), such as discrimination and the problems of growing up. The fact that these situations are approached honestly, amusingly and emotionally makes this film an important one to see.

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