The documentary "The Wolfpack" concerns the Angulo brothers, raised as virtual shut-ins by protective parents on the Lower East Side, escaping the confines of their existence largely through their obsessive consumption of movies and studious re-enactments of favorites ranging from "Reservoir Dogs" to "The Dark Knight."
It's a stranger-than-fiction starting point for a movie that maintains its power because director Crystal Moselle downplays that angle. She isn't an objective observer here, standing at a distance and gawking at these odd people.
Instead, she immerses herself in the Angulo ecosystem, planting her camera inside the cramped apartment, following the brothers on their rare trips outdoors and evoking the astonishingly unbroken spirits of young men beginning to break free from a devastating psychological prison.
This is an unusual story, of course, but the strength of "The Wolfpack" lies in the way Moselle opens it up and universalizes things.
The Angulos' journey is but a heightened version of the path we each take, as we leave our familial homes for the uncertainties of adulthood.
Their collective coming-of-age is rife with the joy of imaginative expression, as the brothers develop and start to refine their artistic tools.
The movie is smart enough to recognize the value of these endeavors as more than curiosities.
They are indicative of something special happening inside these individuals, a triumph over a form of adversity that's both rare in the form it takes and all too recognizable.
It all makes for a compelling documentary, filled with triumphant moments such as the brothers' first trip to a multiplex, even if it might have benefited from a closer look at the horrific circumstances.
More than anything, "The Wolfpack" is a true New York City story, reminding us that the heart and soul of this metropolis can be found in the diverse journeys of those who call it home.