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This Week's Film Reviews (Aug 20, 2020)

27 Jul 2021

FILM REVIEWS:

CRYPTOZOO (USA 2021) ***
A film by Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski (the animation director)


Cryptid comes from the Greek word ‘krypto’ which means ‘hidden’ as these words appear at the beginning of this new animated feature.  It refers to an animal whose existence is disputed or unsubstantiated.  CRYPTOZOO is the zoo where these animals are kept.

CRYPTOZOO finds the audience in a completely imaginary and fascinating world of its own - totally strange, alarming and magical, seen through the eyes of  the visionary comic books filmmaker Dash Shaw.  This visual feast of psychedelic colours and eye-popping art won the NEXT Innovator Award at Sundance this year.

The film plays like an adult fairy tale comic book nightmare.  On the positive side, the animation is differently fresh but the storytelling gets a bit messy with a dull middle where the plot remains stagnant for a bit.

The film opens with a pair of hippies (voiced by Louisa Krause and Michael Cera) who find themselves lost in a woodland paradise.  They make love.  They then discover a very high fence.  Scaling it, they come across a sort of garden of Eden where they witness an unicorn grazing in the woods.  Accidentally scaring the unicorn, the man is killed by the unicorn’s horn while the girl carries his body, screaming for help.  This is the point when the audience is introduced to another character, Lauren (Lake Bell) who had her nightmares cured by a dream-eating baku.  No one believes her story and Lauren is now a cryptid heroine., dedicating her life to keeping cryptids safe.  Now the baku needs help.  Lauren’s sidekick is Phoebe (Angeliki Papoulia), a Gorgon that passes as human by sedating her snakes (i.e. hair) and wearing contacts to hide her deadly eyes.  Unlike Lauren, who considers the zoo a sanctuary, Phoebe thinks it’s a “tacky” tourist draw. Nevertheless, the two team up against the US military who want the baku to wipe out the dreams of the counterculture movement.

  Like many stories, the military is the evil villain.  The question again rises whether the cryptids should be kept in a zoo or let to wander free in their own hidden habitat.

The multitude of cryptids on display should engage adults with sufficient fantasy.  These animals range from phoenixes to unicorns to pig-like elephants, to monsters and snakes and least of all the most fascinating of monsters - the Gorgon, a woman monster with snakes as hair.  One look at the Gorgon and one will turn into stone.  At one point in the film, Phoebe loses her tranquilizers for the snakes, and the snakes begin biting the humans with their limbs turning into monstrosities.

CRYPTOZOO, like most movies these days, aims to be politically correct and has a strong female slant with most of its lead characters including the baku being of the female gender.

CRYPTOZOO  opens August 20 in Toronto (digital TIFF Bell Lightbox), Vancouver (Vancity & VIFF Connect) and Montreal (Cinéma Moderne)!  The film is also available August 20 to rent or buy on the Apple TV app/iTunes and other VOD platforms.

 

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DEMONIC (Canada 2021) **
Directed by Neill Blomkamp

DEMONIC is the new South African director Neill Blomkamp’s new movie - and a slight departure from his previous features.  Blomkamp is best remembered for his manic super hit DISTRICT 9 which shot the director to fame.  Ever since, he has not made anything as spectacular that included the less successful Hollywood CHAPPIE.  DEMONIC sees the director in a more sombre mood with a psychological horror story though the horror is quite evidently physical as the horror manifests itself at the end..

The film is a Canadian production rather than South African and comes with the tag: filmed secretly in Canada over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Also, this is the first Neill Blonkamp film not to star his actor muse Sharlto Copley.

Despite the film being more of a psychological thriller, director Blomkamp still finds opportunity to use his background of 3D animation and visual effects.  This is first observable in the scene where blood oozes from Carly’s arm.  Carly soon after has her arm bandaged up.  The creepy demon finally shows its ugliness as a huge crawly monster at the film’s climax.  Though a bit overdone, horror fans who love to see special effects and monsters will not be disappointed.

The film works best when it is all psychological.  When less is revealed, the greater the mystery and the greater the audience's anticipation.  The first half of the film comes across as more intriguing than the second.  Director Blomkamp whets his audience’s appetite quite a bit at the start.  It begins with a mother calling out for help: “Help me!  Help me !” are her cries.  Carly cries: Mother! Are you here?"

The script also teases with the concept of what a character calls brain paralysis.  When Carly questions what it is , she is told that it is when the mind is totally cognitive and awake but the body is dead.  This is indeed a scary situation that no one wants to be in.  It is the scariest stuff.  A few films of the past address this.  One is Julian Schnabel’s 2007 THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, the true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed.  Carly’s mother is diagnosed as body paralyzed but binds totally normal.  Carly is asked to enter her mother’s mind with the hope of getting her out of her coma.  In the movie, Carly is put besides her mother in the institution and problems from her mother and herself connected to some machine.  Carly enters her mother’s mind.  At this point the film gets so intense that the rest of the film cannot match its challenge.  When Carly enters her mothers and and sees her, she screams at her: “I am here to tell you how much I fucking hate you.”  The reason for Carly’s hatred is unfortunately not convincingly reasoned out in the rest of the film.

DEMONIC never meets up to the expectations it raises.  The monsters at the end also serve as a cop out to the solution of the psychological mystery.  The subplot involving the Vatican and the Catholic Church appears more ridiculous and pathetic and relevant.  In the end, despite an excellent start, the film disappoints.

Trailer: 

 

I CARRY YOU WITH ME (Te Llev Conmigo) (USA 2021) ***1/2

Directed by Hedi Ewing

Two key issues are on display in the heartfelt drama I CARRY YOU WITH ME - LGBT romance and Mexican illegal immigration to the U.S.  These are hot topics that should draw into the story.  And the film is based on a true life relationship.

The story begins in provincial Mexico and continues towards a shared life in New York City as undocumented immigrants.  Ewing made the Oscar-nominated documentary JESUS CAMP.
The film moves back and forth in time.  Its opening scene has a man walking in the NYC subway.  The audience sees the name of the station - Broadway.  The man thinks aloud of his past as the film flashbacks to 1994 in Puebla, Mexico.  Iván (Armando Espitia) is a young father and aspiring chef who wants to support his son, but he is only washing dishes at a local restaurant, despite a culinary diploma.  One night at a bar, he meets Gerardo (Christian Vázquez), a handsome teacher who, unlike Iván, is out as a gay man.  Their chemistry is instant.   But the discovery of Iván’s relationship with Gerardo causes conflict.  In despair, Iván makes the arduous decision to cross the border into the United States, promising his son and his soulmate Gerardo that he will return.  As it turns out, going back to Mexico would not be that simple.

Director  Ewing allows the strength of her source material i.e. the real life story to manifest itself, not relying on melodrama or cheap theatrical dramatics like added on confrontation.  The film understandably unfolds like a documentary because of Ewing’s background.  The film is more pensive than dramatic with details in each shot telling more of the story than its dialogue.

The film spent a bit of time on the ‘crossing’ process - with Ivan crossing the border into the U.S.  Ivan travels at night initially and is faced with fear and uncertainty.

The gay lifestyle in rural Mexico is on display.  The father brings his son at night into the bush and beats him because the villagers are calling the son a faggot.  In rural Mexico (unlike gay friendly Puerto Vallarta for example), LGBT relationships are still forbidden and looked down upon.  A woman shopkeeper refuses to serve a gay customer giving the excuse that the shop is closing.  The drag shows in Mexico are shown to be camp and tacky, but somehow still entertaining.

There are many stories in the film besides the gay and father/son relationship. It is also the  coming-of-age and coming-out story of Ivan.  It is also a film about dreams coming true - with much difficulty.  Ivan finally achieves his dream of both becoming a chef and living coming out gay.

The film won both the NEXT Audience Award and the NEXT Innovator Award at Sundance 2020 for its forward-thinking storytelling.

The film is in Spanish with English and opens on August the 20th.

Trailer: 

MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY (USA 2020) ***1/2
Directed by Jeff Bemiss and Lisa Molomot

The film begins with  a shot of rural Texas, what the audience will soon learn to be Brooks County Texas in the United States.  It then follows a middle aged man, Eddie Morales (he plays himself) as he discovers the body of a deceased migrant.  This is clearly an enactment of a real incident.  Words then reveal what the film is all about.

Since 1994, U.S. Border Patrol has issued a deterrence policy that directs migrants into dangerous crossing areas.  The result has been over 200,000 deaths, most of them in Brooks County, Texas.

Two families arrive in Brooks County, Texas to look for their loved ones who went missing after crossing into the country from Mexico.  On their search they meet vigilante ranchers, human smugglers, humanitarian activists, and Border Patrol agents, all of whom are locked in a proxy version of the national immigration debate.  They also discover a sobering truth: the deadliest part of the journey was far from the border. A gripping investigative documentary, Missing in Brooks County is a portrait of a place that confronts the life-and-death consequences of a broken immigration system.

The film is shot as a documentary rather than a fiction film based on a true story.  For this reason, what transpires on screen looks authentic and real.  What unfolds could have pretty much been absolutely real, no doubt, if the filmmakers could get all the resources and people in the real time of the various occurrences.  This being impossible leads to the next best thing, to film the story as a doc re-enactment using actors to play out the real life characters.  The cast of this film consists mostly of real people re-enacting their roles in the story.

The audience is put right into the centre of the action.  The audience sees the deputies at work with their limited resources.   One deputy (not revealed whether he is an actor or a real deputy, but it really makes no difference to know) complains of the lack of manpower due to money but yet the government pays for all things as small as tape measures.  The ranchers around the area also state their point of view.  One particular rancher says that he is not inhuman but there is a terrorist factor in all this.  This is the reason he does not allow water tanks on his farm.   There is definitely racism in Brooks only but there is a real problem here that creates this racism.

The Mexicans also have their say in the film.  The Mexicans confess many trust that North Americans may not know.  A Mexican says that one can lead a better life in Mexico as in Mexico one has family but poor.  But to have money.one has to work in the Mafia in Mexico - a shocking revelation.

MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY is not so much about the search for the missing persons.  The doc is more of a very insightful revelation of the immigration problem that is going on in the Mexican/American border.  Trump tried his silly wall.  It does not work.  Nothing seems to work in a problem that is still existing today.  And many will continue to die and go missing as a result.

Trailer: 

 

MOSQUITO STATE (Poland/USA 2020) ***1/2
Directed by Filip Jan Rymsza

 

embargoed till Aug 6th

 

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PAW PATROL THE MOVIE (Canada/USA 2021) ***

Directed by Cal Brunker

Who or what is RAW PATROL?  RAW Patrol is a Canadian CGI–animated television series created by Keith Chapman produced by Spin Master Entertainment, with animation provided by Guru Studio.  In Canada, the series is primarily broadcast on TVOntario, which first ran previews of the show in August 2013. The series premiered on Nickelodeon in the United States on August 12, 2013.  If you have never heard of the series, you are probably too old to enjoy the film version of the hit series that is loved by kids below the age of 10, who supposedly enjoy cuteness and are unable to enjoy more adult humour.  Young kids can celebrate the upcoming new film while adults might roll their eyes back as they might have to bring their kids to see this one.

When the PAW Patrol's biggest rival, Mayor Humdinger, becomes Mayor of nearby Adventure City (the pups are from Adventure Bay - hopefully the target audience can distinguish the two) and starts wreaking havoc, Ryder and everyone's favourite heroic pups kick into high gear to face the challenge head-on.  The dogs are led by a human of course, a 10-year old boy named Ryder (Will Brisbin).  The pups are of all various breeds, that kids should be able to name like the poodle, dachshund and Alsation (German Shepherd).  While one of the pups must face his past in Adventure City, the team finds help from a new ally, the savvy dachshund Liberty. Together, armed with exciting new gadgets and gear, the PAW Patrol fights to save the citizens of Adventure City and stop Mayor Humdinger (solid voice characterization by Ron Pardo here) from destroying the bustling metropolis.

The pups look cute enough and the villain of the piece goofy nasty but also cute in a child’s way.  The humour is nothing too much to joke about, but just expect a lot of ‘aw’s as the animated characters try to look as adorable as possible.  A few big words of dialogue like precarious predicament and waterway is secured should improve the vocabulary of the target audience.

The voice characterizations are done by mostly kids.  Pardo does solid work as the villainous major while a few recognizable voices from the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Tyler Perry and Kim Kardashian provide a bit of spark.

The evil mayor wants to have lots of fireworks to celebrate his victorious election of which he was the only candidate.  This is in danger of setting the city ablaze.  The mayor has also got his top inventors to suck up all the rain clouds.  This is likely the only message for the kids, that one should not be too megalomaniac about oneself.  It would have been tremendous fun if the mayor would be a Trump replica with someone voting for him with an imitation Trump voice.  That would almost guarantee a one higher star rating for the film.

The Animation is not bad. The film is given a fairy tale look with the town looking like something out of a fairy tale book with lots of mild colours.  The climatic storm animation at the end is impressive.

I have given the animated film that I found rather boring 3 stars for fear of being confronted by a riot of pre-school under 10-year old children.  For truth be told, RAW PATROL THE MOVIE is not half bad.

Trailer: 

 

THE NIGHT HOUSE (USA 2021) ***
Directed by David Buckley

Reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in the lakeside home (THE NIGHT HOUSE) he built for her. She tries as best she can to keep it together – but then nightmares come.  Disturbing visions of a presence in the house calling to her, beckoning her with a ghostly allure.   Beth’s friends describe it as brain paralysis when the mind is awake but the body is sleeping (Sleepwalking is the opposite when the brain is asleep and the body awake).  Against the advice of her friends, she begins digging into her husband’s belongings, yearning for answers. What she finds are secrets both strange and disturbing – a mystery she’s determined to unravel.

THE NIGHT HOUSE is a slow burn.  Nothing happens for example, in the first 15 minutes of the movie.  The only thing the audience sees is the protagonist, Beth (Rebecca Hall) in the movie and staying in a nice house by the lake, the NIGHT HOUSE of the film’s title.  There is also a picture of her framed by the night table in her bedroom.  She wanders around alone, sleeps alone while reminiscing of her past, which is not yet revealed to the audience.

Beth loves to put people in an uncomfortable position.  When one of her students’ mother meets with her asking for a higher grade for her son, Beth tells her right in her face the son did not do his presentation when she was away because her husband shot himself in the month.  It is during a dinner that Beth reads out loud the letter her dead husband left her.  One naturally assumes that director Buckely is fond of putting his audience in similar uncomfortable positions.  Fortunately these positions involve keeping the audience always curious and wanting more of the mystery solved.

Beth had a death experience before the husband’s suicide.  She mentioned to everyone what she experienced when she died and she told them she had forgotten.  Beth confesses to her friends at the dinner table that she had lied, that there was nothing.  She experienced nothing.  The script delivers bits of the mystery at a time.  It is half way through the film that she first discovers a book on the cult that her husband dabbled in.  Beth also discovers that her late husband had a secret life.  Beth wants to find out posthumously about this life.  Did the husband not believe that after death there is not nothing?

The question is always there on whether Beth is dreaming or not.  As she says at one point in the film, her dreams are so real she cannot distinguish them from reality.  Or is she suffering from brain paralysis?  Or are there sinister forces at work?

The film, despite its slow pace succeeds as a mystery thriller aided by Rebecca Halls’ meticulously calculated performance and a well executed and plotted film.

Trailer: 

THE PROTEGE (aka THE ASSET aka THE KILLING KIND (USA 2021) ***
Directed by Martin Campbell

 

The film has undergone two title changes. The title shown in the credits of the film I previewed on the streaming service is revealed as THE KILLING KIND.  One would expect the film to be undergoing problems.  Fortunately THE PROTEGE (which is the title the film is going to be known as) is a kick-ass action flick directed by a once James Bond director Martin Campbell and starring a kick-ass action actress Maggie Q.  THE PROTEGE is almost as good as James Bond.  It is stylish, flashy with lots of action and tongue in cheek humour.

Though the film stars Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson, these two stars are performing supporting roles to what is basically a Maggie Q. film.  Maggie Q is in almost every scene, martial-arts kicking her way out of every bad situation.  She plays a Vietnamese.  Maggie Q comes from a Vietnamese mother and caucasian father, so she fits the bill of her character.  She is also very pretty and a solid actress, able to carry an entire film on her shoulders.  Maggie Q has starred in the NIKITA TV series and has also been in the DIVERGENT franchise films from Lionsgate.

It is good to see Samuel Jackson in another smart talking role, he being one of my favourite actors.  One has to see him in this one - one of his rare performances where he does not utter the ‘mf’ word.  Keaton does action here, and is convincing enough for one to remember that he did star as BATMAN once.

The film begins in Vietnam where Anna is rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson).  Now trained in the family business, Anna (Maggie Q) is the world's most skilled contract killer.  But when Moody - the man who was like a father to her and taught her everything she needs to know about trust and survival - is brutally killed, Anna vows revenge.   As she becomes entangled with an enigmatic killer (Michael Keaton) whose attraction to her goes way beyond cat and mouse, their confrontation turns deadly and the loose ends of a life spent killing will weave themselves even tighter.

THE PROTEGE boasts great stunts that include Maggie Q jumping off the railing in a complex holding on to a fire hose and a sexy fight scene with Michale Keaton.  If one can forgive the outlandish plot and silly storyline, THE PROTEGE is actually quite entertaining.

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RARE BEASTS (UK 2019) ***1/2
Directed by Billie Piper

(to be posted)

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REMINISCENCE (USA 2021) ***

Directed by Lisa Joy

If REMINISCENCE looks like a copycat to ChristopherNolan’s INCEPTION, the filmmakers and director Lisa Joy might have been given approval since she is the wife of the film’s producer Jonathan Nolan who happens to be the brother of director Christopher Nolan.  But REMINISCENCE copies themes from a whole lot of other films like Christopher Nolan’s breakthrough MEMENTO,  Kore-da’s AFTER LIFE, and perhaps all the romantic classics and dystopian sci-fi genre movies.  If all this is brushed aside, director Joy’s film is quite absorbing and well-written though a bit messy in its delivery.

REMINISCENCE is about memory and writer/director Joy has no qualms in dictating what memory is or what she thinks it should be.  She drums this into the audience in voiceover not once but twice at the start and end of the movie, in case her audience never paid any attention.  It is Joy’s effort to insert more substance into what is generally a glossy film with the copied themes from dozens of movies.  Whether the ploy works depends on the individual viewer, but one cannot discredit her for her grand effort.

The realization of a water sunk Miami is impressively depicted throughout the film, from taxing boats scurrying around the city to the subway trains travelling above ground on bridges over water.  When the subjects are taken back in memory they lie in water tanks, the many stages where their different memories come to life are brilliantly conceived and executed, like a play in a film.  Every time a patient relives a memory, the scene unfolds on an imaginary stage besides the water tank.

The protagonist of the story is a love-lorn Nick, who has loads of personal baggage, as the audience is informed through his voiceover.  Nick (Hugh Jackman) currently runs a service along with his longtime work partner, Watts (Thandie Newton), that gives people the opportunity to travel back, briefly, reliving happier, sunnier times.  Watts is in love and would do anything for her boss, but the love is unreciprocated. When Nick falls for the mysterious lounge singer Mae (Rebecca Ferguson), he finds himself savouring the present over the past.  She disappears.  Nick uses this technology to figure out where she might be.

REMINISCENCE will inevitably be compared to Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi outings like INCEPTION and TENET.  Director Joy proves herself more in control of her material.  Despite the many issues covered, her film is less confusing than Nolan’s two films.  Joy keeps the romantic angle strong as the basis of her film.  Her slant about sad films with happy endings that should end in the middle is a clever concept which she proves in her film to be true.

A few points in the script tend to be vague - like the war of the border that Nick was involved in.   Director Joy keeps her film fiction without bringing in current events like the failure of Trump’s America.  But she does show a dilapidated Miami as a result of what the audience can assume to be due to climate change though the fact is never specifically mentioned.

REMINISCENCE is an absorbing enough romance set in a sci-fi dystopian Miami That has stunning enough logistics to impress audiences despite its flaws.

Trailer: 

 

UNAPOLOGETIC (USA 2021) ***

Directed by Ashly O’Shay

After two police killings, Black millennial organizers challenge a Chicago administration complicit in state violence against its Black residents. Told through the lens of Janaé and Bella, two fierce abolitionist leaders, UNAPOLOGETIC is a deep and insightful look into the Movement for Black Lives (MBL), from the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The doc takes great effect when it focuses on real events.  The killing of Rekia Boyd and the refusal of the Chicago police to dismiss the shooter from the force but to have him still serve with full benefits is the one incident that angers Chicago residents.  The protests are taken to the streets.  Director O’Shay also films the meeting of the protesters with the Chairwoman of the Police Investigation Board, also a black woman.  She is let to face the anger of the protesters who demand the officer’s dismissal.  One of the speakers includes the dead girl’s  brother, who makes the whole situation even more volatile.  Director O’Shay offers two points of view here, allowing the Chairman to speak as well.  She says:”It is easy to protest, get angry and scream, but it is more difficult to work towards a solution.”  True, but it is clear from the film that she is doing nothing to work towards any viable solution.

Janae is shown her hometown in South Carolina where she initially went to an all white school.  The gay Janae admits she had a crush in a white boy.  Janae and her mother also talk to the camera about being queer and being black.  Janae’s background is in focus here, where her father gives her a solid all-round education, bringing her to Paris so that she can experience other races.

Despite the current and angry topic of racism, director Ashley occasionally lets her guard down in her documentary.  In one scene where she is filming the Janae family over dinner, she is asked by one of the family members how come she is so quiet.  Ashly is filming, another says, we are not supposed to be talking to her but to each other.  Grandma then says humorously that she talks to everybody.

From the doc Janae and Bella clearly have fight and spirit but they do not seem too bright.  Bella is rapping with anger and foul language, appearing out of the blue with no purpose.  The same can be said about Janae who is preparing her graduation papers.  She is preparing 20 drafts which she has on her computer.  She tells her advisor that she will blow her away, but Janae does not appear to be knowing what she is doing.

UNAPOLOGETIC has an opening date for Toronto.   In the States, the film begins its release August 20th as part of the re-opening of the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.  It also opens August 27th in New York City at Cinema Village and The Maysles Documentary Center; and in Toronto, Canada on the same date at the Bloor Cinema.

Trailer: 

 

TILL DEATH (USA 2021) ***1/2
Directed by S.K. Dale

TILL DEATH is one of those films difficult to review because a major plot spoiler occurs at the 30 minus mark, and revealing it would spoil one's enjoyment of the film.  Then, after the next 30 minute mark, another  major plot revelation is unveiled again, the less said of the story the better for the audience.

Nothing is what it seems.   When the film opens, Emma (Megan Fox) is in a hotel room having an affair with Tom.  But Emma is ending the affair.  It is her anniversary of her marriage with wealthy husband Tom, who had made his aches out of questionable dealings.  At the anniversary dinner in the restaurant, he presents her with a necklace.  It turns out that he is totally aware of his wife’s affair.

The setting of the mystery thriller is the lake house property that the couple enjoyed with good memories.  But it is currently the dead of winter and the property is covered by a blanket of snow.

TILL DEATH is a neat small budget lean little sexy thriller well plotted and executed.  The suspense segments come right out of horror films, like unexpected violence, squeaky doors and damsels  or in this case just one damsel in distress. 

Director Dale makes good use  of the winter including a segment where the characters fall through the ice of a frozen lake.

Again like so many current films, TILL DEATH is a film with a strong female slant.  First of all, Megan Fox is in it with a starring role.  Though she is a damsel in distress, this one is a resourceful one, using her wits to get herself out of tough situations.  Most of the males in the film, however, all share the same characteristic - that they are all not too bright.  All taken in good fun, though!

Trailer: 

WILDLAND (Denmark 2020) ***1/2

Directed by Jeanette Nordahl

Family comes first as the ad for this new Danish crime thriller announces.  WILDLAND demonstrates the power of a family and the importance of sticking together despite dire circumstances.

The film begins with a shot of an overturned car.  17-year old Ida (Sandra Guldberg Kampp) moves in with her aunt and cousins after the tragic death of her mother in a car accident.  This recommendation comes to Ida without much choice, as it is what the country dictates.  Ida has a worker who supposedly looks out for her welfare.  Ida figures that something must be amiss as her mother, when alive, kept the aunt and her family away from Ida.  Ida is soon to find out the reason.

Mystery creates the best audience anticipation.  There is a mystery around the family home.  Though outwardly the home is filled with love, but outside of the home, the family leads a violent and criminal life.  Aunt Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen) are loan sharks and resort to occasional violent means to make sure money going to them is paid up in time.  Or else…..

The film is part family drama.  Aunt Bodil keeps a tight knit family with her sons .  When her other son David (Elliott Crosset Hove) shows up at the house with his pregnant girlfriend, David is given hell by Bodil.  Bodil knows what David is up to - drugs.  Meanwhile, Bodil receives Ida with open arms, allowing her to follow the three sons while working.

Disaster occurs.  During one of the collections, Ida leads a girl to a room where the brothers threaten her father.  A gun goes off and the father is dead.  Panicked, Ida runs off to her case worker (disappearing for a few days) who gets the cops involved after the murder is discovered.

Ida is forced to remain true to family or reveal the truth of the murder the family is in.   Bodil freaks out when the family is visited by Ida’s case worker, thinking that Ida has betrayed the family by revealing to the cops who had happened.

WILDLAND is a female driven movie - a crime family led by a maternal figure, in a film written and directed by a female with a young female protagonist.  One wishes the males were treated with more respect as all the male characters are depicted as dumb folk under the charge or influence of the females.

Two excellent and contrasting performances by the two female leads, one young and the other mature enhance the story.

The question that will arise in the film is what would one do if one is in Ida’s case?   Would you tell the truth and offer up the family to the cops?  The answer is clear.  Often one does not have the privilege to choose.  As in the case of Ida, if she tells on her aunt, she will lose everything.

WILDLAND premiered in 2020 at the Berlinale Film Festival and opens in Virtual Cinemas August the 20th.  It is shot in Danish.

Trailer:  

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