Sunday, October 25, 2020

AFI Fest Spotlight: Wildland

I’m delighted to be covering a number of selections from AFI Fest 2020. The festival runs October 15th-22nd, 2020, and films are available to watch online during that time.

Directed by Jeanette Nordahl
Festival Information

It’s not easy to be surrounded by crime and not become involved with or affected by it. Presuming that certain neighborhoods or areas house only those who break the law is a negative and largely untrue generalization, but it’s likely that most within its boundaries have either seen or been part of something that could be construed as criminal. Those who choose not to be active participants may be tempted or unwillingly roped into activity that could come back to haunt them in the future, and reporting on others is a dangerous choice that can lead to deadly retribution.

Ida (Sandra Guldberg Kampp) is seventeen years old when her mother is killed in a car accident. She is sent to live with her aunt, Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen), and her adult cousins, Jonas (Joachim Fjelstrup), Mads (Besir Zeciri), and David (Elliott Crosset Hove). They welcome her and quickly bring her in to their collections and enforcements, ready to show her the violent reality of the world she has entered. Ida feels a particular connection to David’s girlfriend Anna (Carla Philip Røder), who Bodil vehemently dislikes and who has yet to become inextricably attached to the family in a way that Ida seems fated to be.

This film plays out for most of its exposition like “Animal Kingdom,” with the genders flipped and Ida encountering male cousins treating her as if she’s one of them. While that film is not the source material, numerous reviews make comparisons to it, and it does feel like a Danish-language remake of the same content, which has also spawned a television series on TNT. Ida is too embroiled in the family that her mother kept her from by the time that she forms an opinion on whether she should resist the allure of its closeness, and any innocence she is at the start of the film is long gone after she has stood by and watched what her cousins do without interfering.

In only her second film role, Kampp impresses, reminiscent of Thomasin McKenzie in the way that she carries herself and performs opposite adult actors. Knudsen, a familiar face from “After the Wedding” and “Westworld,” does an extraordinary job of playing a woman who exerts quiet authority, rarely rising to anger yet commanding respect and fear, even from her temperamental sons. This film’s plot diverges somewhat from its non-inspiration “Animal Kingdom,” offering a haunting and compelling portrait of the seduction of community and the lengths people will go to in order to preserve it.


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