QCFF Review: 'We the Coyotes' Burns with Youthful Fire

Directed by Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via

Starring Morgan Saylor, McCaul Lombardi, Betsy Brandt, Khleo Thomas, Lorelei Linklater

BY Alex HudsonPublished Sep 20, 2018

It's hard to be a dreamer in a world of parking tickets, shit-hole studio apartments and disapproving families. That's the harsh reality young lovers Jake (McCaul Lombardi) and Amanda (Morgan Saylor) face when they upend their life in Illinois and move to Los Angeles so that Amanda can pursue a job working for a record label. Unfortunately, it seems no one told her that there's no money in the music industry anymore.

Amanda's family aren't enamoured with Jake, and it's easy to see why. He scores weed when he should be trying to get his life in order, he cusses around Amanda's young cousins, and he's more concerned with checking out the beach than trying to find a job or an apartment. And boy is it uncomfortable when he tries to freestyle rap. Basically, he's the Illinois version of a surfer bro. As the story unfolds, however, we learn that Amanda has failings of her own, while Jake's laidback charm turns out to be his greatest asset (except for maybe those dreamy baby blues).

We the Coyotes is often deeply frustrating to watch. The naïve lovers manage to torpedo all of their money and family contacts within their first day in Los Angeles, and there's a long and absolutely infuriating scene in which they get their van towed. Adding to the stress, some of the indoor scenes are dimly lit and shot too closely.

Thankfully, the movie eventually comes into its own. There are some gorgeous city vistas towards the end, and with the entire narrative taking place across only about 36 hours, it's an appealingly rocky rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows. The characters have nothing but empty bank accounts and a dream, and their lack of a safety net gives an intoxicating thrill to the way each plot twist could change their lives — either for the worse or for the better.

This isn't a fairy tale: Jake and Amanda are young and spontaneous and they've only been together six months, so it's very easy to imagine that their turbulent lives will drive them apart before too long. I give it a year. But over the course of We the Coyotes, it's a pleasure to watch their youth burning bright. (Cercamon)

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