We Are What We Are
Director: Jim Mickle
Writer: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle
Remake of: Somos lo que hay
Cast: Julia Garner, Ambyr Childers, Jack Gore, Bill Sage, Kelly McGillis, Wyatt Russell, Michael Parks
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
After the death of their mother, Rose (Julia Garner), Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rory (Jack Gore) are left behind with their father Frank (Bill Sage). They live a very reclusive and ultra-religious lifestyle that includes ritualistic cannibalism – something that Rose and Iris find facing themselves now that their mother is dead.
I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by the film. I really liked the original and I heard good things about Mickle’s take but in the end, despite several strengths, it felt overly long and I had the feeling like it didn’t actually know what story it told.
We Are What We Are pretends to be a movie about daughters, about succession and about stepping into one’s parents’ shoes – or refusing to step into them. (Which is also what I expected, having seen the original.) But it turns out that it is actually a movie that is about fathers. It’s about Rose’ and Iris’ father controlling his daughters and not accepting their attempts to leave. It’s about the doctor (Michael Parks) looking for his daughter. But to mie it didn’t feel like it was actually much about the daughters themselves at all.
And I just found that particularly disappointing because on the one hand that was one of the most interesting things about the original and on the other hand there are so very few stories about daughters anyway, especially in the terms of succession and carrying on family traditions.
What the film does well though is the way it is shot. It looks beautiful and it is extremely atmospheric. The cast is wonderful, too – especially the girls, though Bill Sage’s Frank is also an extremely strong presence.
But, much like Somos lo que hay, the ending didn’t want to fit with the rest of the calm and atmospheric film. And, unlike Somos lo que hay, it had some incredible lengths and boring bits in between. Which makes me want to stick with the original rather than anything else.