Wildland Glasgow Film Festival Online review Pat Byrne
The UK Premiere of Wildland screens online 4 – 7 March, 2021
‘The embrace of a loving family starts to feel like the grip of a python in Wildland, a dark, chilling crime drama that marks director Jeanette Nordahl as a talent to watch. ‘
Director, Jeanette Nordahl’s chilling debut finds teenager Ida (Sandra Guldberg Kampp) placed by social services with her Aunt Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen) when Ida’s mother Hanne dies in a car crash.
The two sisters have been estranged so Ida knows nothing about her aunt and her family, who live in a large comfortable house in the Danish suburbs. The traumatised young woman is warmly welcomed by Bodil, who lives with her youngest son Mads (Besir Zeciri). He spends his days playing video games and smoking dope. Other members of the family drop by frequently including the oldest son Jonas (Joachim Fjelstrup), his new baby and his wife Marie (Sofie Torp), who stays very much in the background. The middle son is David (Elliott Crosset Hove), a less permanent member of the household. He has a problem with drug addiction and has a tendency to disappear. David’s girlfriend Anna (Carla Philip Røder) has reservations about the family and is something of an outsider but Ida is drawn into their lives responding to her cheerful, affectionate aunt.
Despite Bodil’s pleasant disposition and position as a matriarch enjoying the company of her close-knit family, sitting around the large table with her dandling her grandchild on her knee, there is a flavour of tension. Very soon at Bodil’s behest, Ida is invited to go with her three cousins in the car. She is then introduced, as though it was the most natural area of work, to their debt-collection racket, which their mother oversees.
An interesting aspect of the film is the question as to whether Ida is horrified by the criminal activity and violence she is exposed to or whether she is, to some extent, intrigued and willing to be part of this criminal family. Sandra Guldberg Kampp’s quiet and terse performance as Ida doesn’t give much away, although, you remain aware that she has been swept straight from the tragedy of losing her mother into this strange and sinister family. What she makes of them is not entirely clear.
Sidse Babett Knudsen’s performance is riveting. In the role of Bodil, she displays motherly warmth but also a powerful and chilling grip over her family. These contradictions are well depicted and the film further succeeds in holding your attention through the characters and their complex relationships. The ritual bullying by Jonas of the more vulnerable David, as they sit together in the car on the way to collect money owed, is sickening.
The lengths the family will go to to collect money you feel must affect Ida – the use of a little girl to threaten her family is particularly disturbing. And each time they set off with Ida in the car on their criminal activities there is a growing sense of fear, which eventually builds up until mistakes are made and the situation escalating.
Leaving the ruthless Bodil to tidy matters up…
Pat Byrne, March, 2021
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