Skip to content

THE WOLF AND THE LION (2021) review

February 2, 2022


written by: Prune de Maistre
produced by: Catherine Camborde, Gilles de Maistre, Nicolas Elghozi, Claude Léger, Jacques Perrin, Valentine Perrin, Sylvain Proulx & Jonathan Vanger
directed by: Gilles de Maistre
rated: Rated PG (for thematic elements regarding animal treatment and some peril)
runtime: 99 min.
U.S. release date: February 4, 2022 (theatrical)


“The Wolf and the Lion” is not just the name of a great “Game of Thrones” episode, it’s also the name of a modern-day, family-friendly drama featuring an actual wolf and a lion. The story features two creatures whom we watch grow from fluffy curious cubs to larger and curiouser teens, all of whom were no doubt well-trained on the set. Unlike the last iteration of “The Call of the Wild”, there is thankfully no distracting CGI here, just animal cuteness overload and slo-mo shenanigans between the unlikely pals. This is no foreign ground for writer Prune de Maistre and director Gilles de Maistre, the married collaborators who previously brought us 2019’s “Mia and the White Lion”, another nature adventure fir for all ages. Viewers who usually gravitate to such typically enjoyable fare, will inevitably find much of the movie problematic and quite groan-inducing, but that is solely do to the humans involved, since the animals here aren’t subjected to weak dialogue, a predictable plot, and poorly conceived characters.

The movie opens with an economic introduction that sets into motion the meet-cute between the titular duo. In Africa, a hunter captures a lion cub and has him transported to North America to a circus destination. At the same time, we meet 20-year-old Alma (Molly Kunz, “Widows”) a piano virtuoso, who is vigilantly rehearsing for a high-pressured recital that can determine her future education options. When her grandfather (Jean Drolet) dies, Alma is summoned to his remote island home in Canada, surrounded by the dense woods of Quebec, where she is reunited with her godfather, Joe (Graham Greene), who resides nearby. As she tries to determine what is to become of her grandfather’s home, she encounters and befriends one of his frequent visitors, a beautiful white she-wolf. One night during a fierce thunderstorm, a small plane crashes in the woods near the home, leaving a certain lion cub as one of the survivors. Alma happens upon the lone cub and in no time the young character forms an indelible bond with the she-wolf’s young pup. Despite Joe’s disapproval, Alma decides to leave her grandfather’s home open to the wild tenants, even as she leaves to return back to the city for her recital. When she returns, Alma finds them both gone and she sets out to track down where the wolf and the lion, (which she named Mozart and Dreamer respectively) with her options being a local wolf conservatory and a traveling circus. As Alma searches for the pair, the two animals are just as determined to find each other, resulting in a display of indominable wills and determination.



With a movie as formulaic as this, the two headlining leads have to carry the story and they most certainly do, to the point where they wind up overshadowing their human costars. Granted, Molly Kunz has a good presence as Alma, especially as she fully engages with the animals that surround her (although at times her line delivery is a little flat), and veteran actor Graham Greene is always a welcome addition to any movie, but the dialogue here does neither of them any favors. “The Wolf and the Lion” has a pacing problem, that doesn’t give Alma or Joe any room to connect or breathe. Sure, the focus is on the two animals, but certainly more could’ve been explored with the character of Alma. The fact that both her parents are dead is only briefly mentioned. How has that affected her? How much time has she spent with her godfather Joe after their death? Taking time to incorporate such details, even slightly, would’ve helped in becoming more engaged with these two characters.

The other humans in supporting roles are paper thing and simply baffling, both in their characterization and how the actors play the roles. There’s Eli (Charlie Carrick) a geeky wolf conservationist and his hired tracker, Charles (Derek Johns), who are in pursuit of the elusive she-wolf, so they can capture her and then let her go back into the wild (what?). These two characters are a jarring attempt at injecting comedy into the movie, but at no point does it work. While they don’t have big roles, their broad, one-note characterization is unintentionally laughable. Look, the cutesy animals supply enough heart-tugging laughs, no need to force human humor on us. Then there’s the circus characters, Allan (Evan Buliung), this lion trainer guy who works at the traveling circus and his son Rapha (Rhys Slack), and each time these two appear, the more you feel this movie would be better off without humans altogether.




It aforementioned pacing problem of “The Wolf and the Lion” even extends to the overall narrative of the story. The de Maistre duo seemed to be concerned with just keeping the story going at a solid clip, which can be seen in how Mozart and Dreamer quickly grow up during a montage, making the passing of time quite confusing. It’s unclear how long Alma plans on staying at her grandfather’s house (a location that was also used in 2004’s “The Secret Window”, starring Johnny Depp) and when she does well at her recital, she turns down the opportunity to attend music school in California, because…she’s not into it and she never was? What? Why spend years practicing then? There’s no explanation though. If the filmmakers don’t care then why should we?

There are heavy-handed messages about animal and nature conservation in “The Wolf and the Lion”, but it’s all so on-the nose and obvious and not really offering viewers anything original to chew on. While the cinematography from Serge Desrosiers is often quite beautiful, there seems to be an over-reliance on drone shots that sweep and swirl around the island house and follow the title characters, which gets a little repetitive. Bottom line: the main problem with “The Wolf and the Lion” are the humans, which is kind of a meta-observation considering humans are also the main problem for animals in the real world.





No comments yet

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: