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Movie Review: Discovering 'Los Lobos'

For better or worse, since all the theaters closed, watching new movies has sort of been like a protracted film festival. Unless you’re really plugged in, you don’t even know what’s going to be available to stream week-to-week or really what any particular movie is about, and so you just go by what major review sites might mention, or, maybe, word-of-mouth. 

And that’s how you end up watching Los Lobos, on HBO Max, and you think, “this is exactly something I’d be telling everyone about after seeing it at Tallgrass.”


Los Lobos, or, The Wolves, tells the story of two young boys who move with their mother from Mexico to Albuquerque, clearly leaving some difficulty behind. They have little money and find a dreadful apartment, in which the boys must stay alone each day as their mother goes to her multiple low-wage jobs in an effort to keep them afloat. The boys dream, above all else, of going to Disneyland, and they’re willing to put up with the situation because of the prospect of such an adventure, and because they love their mother.


The movie is sweet, and quiet, as we watch the boys invent worlds in their apartment, occupying themselves and finding friendship with the elderly Chinese owners of the apartment complex. They navigate their own boredom and frustration and the not-so-nice boys who play soccer outside, while listening to their mother’s voice and their grandfather’s singing on an old tape recorder. The stakes inside the apartment walls are low even as we know outside they’re about as high as they can be.


And what Los Lobos really gets right is the kids. It understands children—how they feel, how they create, how they understand—when so many other films too obviously contain children who were written by adults. Why we give kids so little credit, I’ll never know, but, thankfully, this movie does. 

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.