Adventure Animated

Running with the Wolves: A TIFF Review of ‘Wolfwalkers’

September 14, 2020Ben MK

Although long extinct in Ireland, wolves were once one of the country's most treasured animals, a status reflected by their major role in Irish folklore. And in the animated feature Wolfwalkers, directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart bring the legend of the Celtic wolf to vibrant life, mixing real-life history and age-old mythology in this endearing story about two girls who form an unlikely bond.

The year and place is 1650 Ireland, and Bill Goodfellowe (Sean Bean) and his daughter Robyn (Honor Kneafsey) have come from England to take part in the local wolf hunt. Settling down in Kilkenny — a town quivering under the iron fist of the ruthless Lord Protector (Simon McBurney) — it doesn't take them long to learn of the legend of the wolfwalkers. Creatures rumored to be both human and wolf, who also possess magical healing abilities, the wolfwalkers appear to be little more than the creations of an overactive imagination. That is, until the day Robyn comes face to face with one of them — a rambunctious, wild young girl named Mebh Óg MacTire (Eva Whittaker) — and finds her perceptions challenged and her life forever changed by her new friend.

Following in the footsteps of Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells, the result is more than just a charming flight of fancy. As timeless as it is timely, Wolfwalkers is a beautifully animated masterpiece steeped in Irish culture, with a message of empowerment and acceptance that will appeal to both adults and kids alike.

Wolfwalkers screens under the Special Events programme at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 43 min.

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