Monday, June 14, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: Wild Men

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

Wild Men
Directed by Thomas Daneskov
International Narrative Competition – Screening Information

People deal with uncertainty and dissatisfaction in different ways. Those who are able to recognize the roots of their problems or concerns may want to address what isn’t working for them and try to proactively find a fix. Others may seek comfort in immersing themselves in something that looks nothing like their normal life, whether or not it’s a sustainable long-term plan. It’s not usually easy to make a dramatic change permanent, and the exploratory period may also bring with it a series of irreversible actions that make it impossible to revert back to a previous state.

Martin (Rasmus Bjerg) is having a midlife crisis of sorts. His uncertainty about his place in the world has sent him into the Norwegian forest dressed as a Neanderthal, not entirely disconnected from civilization thanks to his cell phone charger but hardly properly equipped for human interaction. A trip to a convenience store without his wallet precipitates a run-in with a criminal named Musa (Zaki Youssef) on the run from authorities and his own vindictive accomplices. The two join forces as they head to a community where Martin hopes to find kindred spirits and Musa hopes to find a ticket far away from his precarious situation.

This film is inherently comedic, mainly because Martin’s personality doesn’t match his startling getup, and much of what he says indicates a desire to live off the land but conveys far too much knowledge about modernity and material concerns. His dynamic with Musa is entertaining, especially because what’s not said between the two of them leads to humorous misunderstandings and a very confused law enforcement search for the pair, made even less competent due to a lack of effort and intelligence from those in (cold) pursuit.

This film takes an interesting journey between genres, starting out as a screwball comedy and then turning into more of a twisted thriller as its story goes off the rails. It’s an entertaining journey to be sure, one made even more enjoyable by Bjerg’s lead performance. He manages to portray Martin’s very specific enthusiasm in a way that makes him believable as a man who overinvests in certain fantasies but also does also possess a good amount of street smarts that don’t serve him as well when he can’t see the full picture of his life. This film’s thematic pivot leaves a puzzling taste as it ends, but its humor drives it well for the majority of its runtime, basking in its peculiarity and putting it to enjoyable use.


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