The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - WILDHOOD | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - WILDHOOD

wildhood review
A troubled teen learns to accept his identity while searching for his mother.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Bretten Hannam

Starring: Phillip Lewitski, Avery Winters-Anthony, Joshua Odjick, Michael Greyeyes

wildhood poster

Adapted from a 2019 short of the same name, director Bretten Hannam's Wildhood is one of several recent North American indies that have aped the format of Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas, road movies in which the protagonist is seeking out a specific person, with whom they share an intense exchange in the climax. Like Morissa Maltz's The Unknown Country, this is a story of a young protagonist seeking out their indigenous roots, in this case Link (Phillip Lewitski), a two-spirit teen who has been led to believe by his white father (Joel Thomas Hynes) that his Mi'kmaw mother Sarah (Savonna Spracklin) died when he was young.

wildhood review

Link uncovers the ruse when he finds a birthday card from his mom hidden away in a draw. In a fit of anger he sets fire to his father's truck and flees into the night with his younger half-brother Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony).

Neither Link nor Travis have any clue where to begin searching for Link's mother, but they're helped out by Pasmay (Joshua Odjick), a Mi'kmaw teen travelling to a pow wow where he hopes to win a dancing competition. Pasmay has some ideas about where to begin searching for Sarah and so Link and Travis bundle into his truck and set off on a voyage across the landscape of Eastern Canada.

wildhood review

That scenic setting provides one hell of a backdrop for Wildhood, but Hannam is a little too in love with photographing his young protagonists frolicking in lakes and against big open skies. After the third of these Malickian montages it all becomes a bit wearisome.

Like most road movies, Wildhood's best moments are those encounters with various supporting characters our heroes meet along the way. Michael Greyeyes adds some star power as Pasmay's charismatic uncle, while a trip to a convenience store leads to a charming scene in which a Mi'kmaw teen mercilessly ribs Link for dying his hair blonde.

wildhood review

Wildhood's central focus is on the burgeoning romance between Pasmay, who seems completely comfortable in his sexuality, and Link, who hides away his homosexuality in similar fashion to his concealing of his Mi'kmaw heritage. Through Pasmay, he begins to embrace both aspects of his identity.

Hannam's film often devolves into road movie and queer cinema tropes that we've seen all too often, but the unique setting and exploration of dual identities adds an element of freshness. At close to two hours however, it does threaten to grow a little stale in parts and its Paris, Texas style payoff isn't quite as sharp and incisive as it might have been.

 is in UK cinemas and on VOD from September 2nd.

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