A teenager, I am not. Far from, actually, but the pain of those days is as sharp as the tip of the No. 2 pencils I once kept in my green JanSport. To imagine having to live those years with the added burden of a rare deformity is nearly impossible, but both the writer and director of THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY, Olivia Dufault and Martin Krejcí, respectively, got it so right.
Hypertrichosis, also known as Werewolf Syndrome, is a rare condition which causes abnormal hair growth all over a person’s body. Not much is known about this condition, but it is said to be caused by the genes that led to excessive hair growth in our very early ancestors for warmth. Evolution stopped this gene, but for people with Hypertrichosis, the gene would have been reactivated in the womb.
In THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY, Paul, played by Jaeden Martell (IT, Knives Out) lives with Hypertrichosis. At the open of the film, he is at a fair with his father, Denny (Chris Messina of “The Mindy Project”), reluctantly celebrating his 13th birthday, wearing a full face covering and long sleeves. He is approached by a group of typical teenaged asshole boys who call him names and torment him. He ends up going home where his well-meaning dad surprises him by offering to send him away to a school for children with deformities and special needs. Paul, less than thrilled about this, retreats to his room where he finds a package which he discovers is from his estranged mother. It leads him to run away from home and search for her.
It’s through Paul’s search for the mother that left him that he meets other misfits, namely the slimy carnival owner, Mr. Silk (John Turturro), petty thief, Rose (Eve Hewson) and the shining light of this film, teenaged dive-bar singer, Aristiana (Sophie Giannamore). It’s on this mission that Paul learns about himself and the world around him in ways he never before understood. This film illustrates not only the cruelties we so often face but also the love and kindness that makes the difficulties of life so worth it. Paul is the lonely teenager inside all of us and you will spend this entire film rooting for him and crying for him and yelling at him and wanting to hug him.
I must once again mention the performance by Sophie Giannamore as Aristiana. She was so utterly believable in her role and I wanted to hug her just as much as I did Paul. She is spectacular as she teaches Paul that not all of the difficulties in life are surface detectable and she never once looks on him with pity or disgust.
Another performance that really stood out and should be mentioned is the amazing performance by Stephen McKinley Henderson. I do not want to say too much about his role, as to avoid spoilers, but he was so great.
Please do check out this film. THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY was so beautifully done and well worth the watch. The film is now available On-Demand & Digital.