Trailer: George MacKay + Lily-Rose Depp Navigate ‘Species Dysmorphia’ in ‘Wolf’

With all the focus on the fluidity of gender identity, it’s likely only a matter of time until the conversation turns more intently to the subject of whether certain human beings may just have some overlap with certain types of animal or seafaring species (though it seems already well established that Peter Murphy is at least 25% bat). And perfect timing, a new indie film deals harrowingly with the notion of what is called “species dysmorphia.”

From Irish writer-director Nathalie Biancheri (who won high praise for 2019’s Nocturnal), the new and not ambiguously titled Wolf (in theaters December 3 via Focus Features) follows Jacob – played by George MacKay, whose previous credits include Nuclear and 1917 – as he tries to navigate the all-consuming belief that he is, yes…part wolf. Much to the horror of his loved ones, he acts this out in everyday life. (And despite our ever more broad comprehension of modern mental disorders, it’s a condition still not actually officially realized by the psychiatric community.)

The first trailer has been released, and it opens with him snarling away on all fours. We then see him checked into a facility designed to treat such conditions; and in group therapy, a staff psychologist insists that, “Species identity disorder can be cured. So that a person who thinks themselves an animal, can resume a happy, healthy, and rewarding life.” There’s almost a quality of camp or parody about the scene – but in fact Biancheri’s film seems to be approaching the matter genuinely seriously.

Inside, he meets Wildcat, a haunted-looking Lily-Rose Depp, who assures him that wolves and wildcats are not the natural enemies they’ve long been made out to be. An intense connection develops between the two, even while she concedes that, “Life is no fairytale.”

The irony is, of course, that contemporary children’s fairytales are full of happy-go-lucky anthropomorphic characters. But Wolf is actually dealing quite solemnly with a dark grey area of the connection between our psychological makeup and our physical primal nature – and the possibility of more greatly understanding said grey area surely makes this one of the more greatly anticipated films of the autumn 2021 season.

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