Family life can be a toxic bubble of hate and pain. It can be insular, pitting sibling against each other. It could also maybe be reformative, making you better, happier or more humane. In WILDLAND, from director Jeanette Nordahl, what we are watching is a classic troupe played out for the modern age. One that has been very well trodden in previous generations honestly, but well developed or not, it is even more solidly established in the zeitguist. The idea of a crime family being at the heart of the fracturing of the classic family model found its zenith in modernity with THE GODFATHER series. But is that Shakespearian (or should we say Learian) device is ready for a remix?

Following a car accident, in which her mother was killed, 17-year-old Ida (Sandra Guldberg-Kampp) has to move in with her estranged aunt Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen). The house is also home to her aunt’s grown sons Mads (Besir Zeciri), David (Elliott Crosset Hove) and Jonas (Joachim Fjelstrup). The home is happy and from the outside the life seems joyous. However, a nasty question about money comes up. The fact it seems to flow all around the family but never via jobs, brings attention. When a man is threatened to pay or his family will receive violence at their hands, Ida sees all is not as she thought and the family leads a criminal life that ensnares everyone.

Crime pays. Sad but true. On and off screen it generates big bucks. But the notes that seem to bond an audience to it are often distinctly different to just the brutal action of violence and control. More liked are the established relationships of family, loyalty and honour. WILDLAND plays with this in a stilted and stifled way. The characters are drawn like 1 dimension troupes. A leader, hardened and family orientated. A foot soldier, ignorant and dominant. Babett Knudsen mother is all face contortion and vicious incest, in a way that is both handled oddly and sometimes feels regressive. We get that a mother loves her sons, but her position as their controller is sometimes just odious. Guldberg-Kampp’s Ida has the most rounded of performances. Displaying a level of variation on the themes of crime, brute force and sexual desire. She at least appears thrown around in the trial of destruction. Losing a mother, finding a relation who is poisonous and then system that wants her for its own devices. But this is not enough to lift the film, nor is it enough to make it more substantive then other films with direct to video tags. A shocking final third, feels as if the writer wanted to prove a point (and provide a break from the cathartic journey) and it ends up jarring. Sadly a missed opportunity for a film that had so much going for it.



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