Go

Wildlike

Year: 2015
Production Co: Greenmachine Film
Director: Frank Hall Green
Writer: Frank Hall Green
Cast: Ella Purnell, Bruce Greenwood, Brian Geraghty

A sullen teenager (is there any other kind?) Mackenzie (Ella Purnell), is sent by her in-recovery mother to live in smalltown Alaska with her dead father's younger brother (Brian Geraghty) for a few months.

Moping around buried in her hoodie jacket and not smiling or talking to anyone, Mackenzie is the archetype of a rebellious teenage girl. Purnell plays the part so well if you've ever had a kid like her in your own family you'll want someone to slap her.

Her uncle is undaunted in his attempts to make friends with her and gradually melts the permafrost Mackenzie locks herself in, but just when the girl starts to imagine she might have a good time in this remote hellhole, her Uncle betrays the worst possible trust. At the first opportunity she literally runs, with no idea where to go and no money to do it with when she gets there.

To get out of the rain, Mackenzie eventually finds her way to an unlocked motel room and hides under the bed of its occupant, widower and recreational hiker Rene (Bruce Greenwood). When he discovers her Mackenzie screams and runs out of the room.

But in tiny Juneau, Alaska, it's never hard to come across the same people over and over again, and Rene finds the teen runaway hovering around him everywhere from the hotel bar to the bus out to Denali National Park where he intends to take the walk he and his wife – who died the year before – were going to take together.

He does his best to shake her off, but with no other option, Mackenzie might finally be betraying her essential state of childhood by thinking instinctively that an adult will know what to do. She keeps following the fiftysomething Rene to the extent that he has no choice but to take her on as his hiking and camping partner.

All the while, the camera of director Frank Hall Green pans slowly across gorgeous wild landscapes that seem to be a metaphor for the feelings and loss that have overtaken both the characters' lives.

For some Wildlike will be too slow moving, and it's not as engaging as the other wilderness-as-healing story, Reese Witherspoon's Wild. There are too many scenes that seem to take too long to propel what could have been much more storytelling economy, like an extended stopover with some pilot/tourists, but Green and his DP Hillary Spera wield a dreamy, languid quality that suits the locations perfectly.

Luckily the performances go a long way to making up for any sagging in the plot. Greenwood has an easy realism that's elevated roles in fantastical movies like the Star Trek franchise and Super 8 above their genre conventions, but Purnell is the real standout. Now 18, she shone brightly as the younger version of Ruth, the part Keira Knightley played in mark Romanek's brilliant Never Let Me Go.

She was less successful surrounded by special effects as the young version of Angelina Jolie's Maleficent, but given a stage and a decent script like Wildlike, she has the makings of a major talent.

It's an unlikely friendship story with a travelogue sense of visual style and while the results are mixed, it takes some great actors and gives them a wide canvas to perform on, both narratively and geographically.

© 2011-2022 Filmism.net. Site design and programming by psipublishinganddesign.com | adambraimbridge.com | humaan.com.au