Review: ‘The Wolf and the Lion’

Playful animals in gorgeous landscapes. What more do you need?

Strewn with amazing coincidences and unlikely circumstances, the gorgeous backdrop of a forest in Canada is, nonetheless, the perfect setting for The Wolf and the Lion, which centers around the bond of brotherhood that is quickly established by the titular characters. Humans are almost beside the point. 

Still, humans are what give the film its narrative drive, both for good and for bad. Alma (Molly Kunz) is introduced as an aspiring professional concert pianist, who departs her music school in the final preparations for an important audition only in order to attend to the settlement of her grandfather’s estate in Canada. 

Her only living relative, her grandfather owned a private island, which she stands to inherit. Intending only to stay overnight and pay homage in person to her grandfather’s memory, she is instead caught up by circumstances when a lion cub drops into her arms. Literally. 

That’s the kind of movie this is, but that’s perfectly alright because it sharpens the focus on the animals who are at the heart of the story. 

French filmmaker Gilles de Maistre, who co-wrote the film with Prune de Maistre, previously helmed Mia and the White Lion (2018), based on an idea by the two; The Wolf and the Lion continues in a similar semi-documentary vein, with the humans engineering plot devices in order to give the story a slender story thread and pitting the well-intentioned Alma against various challenges that arise. 

The first challenge is what to do with the lion cub, as it quickly bonds with the offspring of a rare white wolf that Alma’s grandfather looked after on his private island. The lion cub has been purchased by a local circus and was on its way from its home to the circus when it was lost in an aviation accident, which is how it ended up in Alma’s arms.  

The rare white wolf has been the target of well-intentioned human predators, Eli (Charlie Carrick) and Charles (Derek Johns), who sought the animal to bring it under their protective care on a local animal preserve. When they capture it, they take it away, not realizing that the wolf’s cub was now rendered motherless. 

Alma raises the wolf cub and the lion cup over the next several months in and around the large home that she inherited from her grandfather, forsaking her music career, and keeping the animals a secret from her protective godfather Joe (Graham Greene), who lives nearby. When Joe finds out her secret, he agrees to keep it between them after he confirms her good intentions. An unforeseen accident, however, threatens the happy future of the wolf and the lion. 

Heartfelt empathy for the plight of abused animals outweighs the flimsy, sometimes silly plot machinations. Molly Kunz and Graham Greene make for an appealing pair of heroes; much of the movie, in fact, depends on the ability of Molly Kunz to appear absolutely at ease with her animal friends. Her likable confidence plays well as she becomes a mother to two unlikely brothers. 

The film opens in Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding cities on Friday, February 4, via Blue Fox Entertainment. For more information about the film, visit the official site.

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