Written and directed by Sam Hobkinson, the dramatic tale of a woman whose holocaust memoir took the world by storm, but a fallout with her publisher, who turned detective and revealed an audacious deception created to hide a darker truth.
There’s one inherent issue with the way that this film presents itself, if you’re going to consistently tease a dark, salacious truth to be discovered, you have to pay out and it’s debatable whether Misha and the Wolves truly does. It’s undeniable that this is an interesting story and there’s some beyond questionable moral behaviour which opens up a bigger discussion about survival, which has nothing to do with wolves. However, it never delves down into something genuinely surprising, even going into with no prior knowledge, fascinating human behaviour, yes but shocking or revelatory, not so much sadly. It works in such a way that you might begin to question what it’s true purpose is, it doesn’t make clear who it wants you to ultimately root for or put your investment behind. It’s attempting to play a rather simple trick on its viewers to enhance the story and it’s one that might not be appreciated.
It’s an element that’s worsened by the film’s chosen style which feels as though it very much underestimates the interesting nature of its story and its audience’s intelligence. It’s entirely in line with American television documentaries, it’s putting all of its efforts into creating something melodramatic and theatrical. Unfortunately the result of that is it undercuts or undervalues the fact that this is actually a compelling story, it’s cheapened by the transparent attempts to make it more flashy. It’s a shame as the visual for the most part, in particular the cinematography is sincerely strong, it’s sharp and vibrant but there isn’t a fitting outlet for that energy to be diverted to.
It similarly lets down the fact that it has some great talking heads to explore this story with. Evelyne Haendel is fantastic, she’s such a wonderful woman to watch and feels so open and kind. It was incredibly generous of her to agree to even be involved in the search for the truth about Misha, it shows a strength beyond most people. These core three women trying to uncover the reality behind the unbelievable story are all fascinating to watch. If the style had been toned down and let their personalities and charisma naturally push things where they needed to go, the suspense and curiosity would have leapt off the screen, they genuinely didn’t need the added glamour.
Misha and the Wolves is a curious and intriguing tale of human behaviour and who lies really serve. It’s a shame that the directorial and editing styles underestimated the power of its story and instead tried to force the suspense with fairly simple and unsatisfying tricks and additions. Beneath the flash, there’s a fascinating story of a few women who went searching for the truth and had no idea what they’d find. It maybe doesn’t suffice for their over build up for something shocking but stripping it down to its basics, it’s undoubtedly a gripping story.