Wildland is a restrained, female-fronted mobster drama on the dangers of performative family roles

Film Review by Stefania Sarrubba | 10 Aug 2021
  • Wildland
Film title: Wildland
Director: Jeanette Nordahl
Starring: Sandra Guldberg Kampp, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Carla Philip Røder
Release date: 13 Aug
Certificate: 12A

A familial history of violence, Wildland is a stripped-down, slow-burning Danish drama that packs the hardest of punches in its final act. Jeanette Nordahl's film follows in the footsteps of many a mobster story. Yet it makes up for its lack of originality thanks to a gripping character study navigating a disheartened, doomed coming-of-age.

Following her mother’s death in a car accident, 17-year-old Ida (Camp) moves in with her aunt Bodil (Knudsen), a matriarchal, almost religious figure who would do anything for her three grown sons. As the grief-stricken lead is welcomed into this seemingly warm family environment, she realises there is something sinister lurking beneath the surface – and it's calling her name.

Ambivalent about the family’s criminal affairs, Ida finds solace and a kindred spirit in her cousin’s girlfriend, Anna (Røder). Just like the protagonist, Anna is an outsider tiptoeing around the family’s secrets and doesn’t often follow their problematic etiquette. There is a price to pay for this sin, as Bodil reminds them both. In Wildland, familial roles have a performative element to them. This ritualistic component raises some necessary questions about toxic masculinity and women trapped in the mother/wife or whore dichotomy.

Camp carries this uneven movie with a beautifully restrained performance that gives Ida’s struggle room to shine. Torn between being part of the pack and wanting to become her own person, she learns there’s no escape when the familial ties wrapped around you turn into a chokehold. In such a female-fronted crime drama, however, it is a shame that the cautious bond between Ida and Anna isn’t explored further. Their brief, silly, intimate exchanges are a beacon of hope in the face of the ineluctability of fate and it would have been nice to see more of those.

Released 13 Aug by Picturehouse Entertainment; certificate 12A