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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > July 2019 > Animal kingdom

Animal kingdom

Searing indie film looks at a youngster’s sexual awakening and the effect it has on his family life

After doing the film-festival rounds since 2018’s Sundance — where director Jeremiah Zagar won a Next Innovator award, presented to him by RuPaul — queer comingof- age tale We the Animals finally arrives in UK cinemas this June. Independently made on a shoestring budget, it’s an arresting, beautifully shot film that focuses on a mixed ethnicity (half-white, half-Puerto Rican) family living in upstate New York.

Based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Justin Torres, the story is told from the perspective of the youngest of three pre-teen boys, Jonah, played by Evan Rosado — just nine at the time — as he begins to discover his queer identity and grows apart from his brothers and parents.

The familial unit: Ma (Sheila Vand), Paps (Raúl Castillo) and three sons Manny (Isaiah Kristian), Joel (Josiah Gabriel) and Jonah live almost hand-to-mouth.

But there’s an intense bond between them, treading — sometimes crossing — the fine line between fierce love and violence. The original novel, written by Justin over the course of six years at a time when he was estranged from his family — he still doesn’t speak to his father — was a bestseller in America and is now a frequently studied text in various university courses.

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About Attitude

On the cover: Looking and Tales of the City star Murray Bartlett Inside: Swan Lake dancer Sam Salter, Ben Lewis, meet the countryside queers, and what’s it like to be gay in Brunei?