We Are What We Are

Indie Weekend: ‘We Are What We Are,’ ‘Win Win’

We Are What We Are
The family that eats together, stays together? (IFC Films)

After Hannibal Lecter made cannibalism sexy, what could be left to say on the subject? Along comes We Are What We Are, from Spain, which asks: “What about the kids?”

In the opening moments, a man drops dead on the sidewalk. A closer look indicates that the older gentleman must have been in very bad shape for a very long time, but then we pick up with three younger people and their mother, and we begin to understand the problems faced by a family of cannibals in modern times. Mainly, it’s this: Nobody likes cannibals, dude. And it’s tough to find fresh bodies to feast upon, without detection by outsiders.

Also, the public doesn’t like to be eaten alive.

The film, directed by Jorge Grau, keeps to the shadows and maintains a very dark tone. That’s fitting, since it’s how the family lives their lives, not so much out of choice as by a desire to survive. But should they stay live, if it means killing others in order to satisfy their primal needs? The three teenagers, two boys and a girl, are wrestling with that dilemma. Every fiber of their bodies compels them to eat human flesh, while their minds are fighting a war to the death with their emotions.

We Are What We Are is very much a family drama, with a measure of blood and guts, but it doesn’t motor along like your standard horror movie. Adjust your expectations for a deliberate pace and thoughtful consideration, and allow the movie’s power to build.

The film opens today at the Texas Theatre for a one-week run.

Win Win
Paul Giamatti urges a wrestler on to victory. (Fox Searchlight)

Paul Giamatti is an eminently fascinating actor, especially when he’s playing a less than lovable character, as in Barney’s Version, which is still playing at the Angelika Dallas and very much worth watching. In Win Win, the new film by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor), Giamatti plays an attorney who also coaches a high school wrestling team.

Unfortunately, I missed multiple opportunities to see the film in advance, but John Meyer of Pegasus News says in his review that Giamatti “is, as usual, wonderful, though a bit less manic here than in other of his signature roles — a feature I find quite refreshing.” Here’s a little more from John’s review:

Leave it to writer/director Tom McCarthy to remind us in compelling fashion that you don’t need special effects, “ripped from the headlines” sensationalism, or (God forbid) 3D to make a movie so good it hurts. All you need, it turns out, are talented actors, an intelligent script, and characters who seem to be actual humans rather than — well — characters in a movie.

Win Win opens today at the Landmark Magnolia and Angelika Plano.

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