Berlinale Exclusive Review: Kød & Blod (Wildland)

Year: 2020
Duration: 89 Minutes
Director: Jeanette Nordahl
Writer: Ingeborg Topsøe
Starring: Sandra Guldberg Kampp, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Joachim Fjelstrup, Elliott Crosset Hove, Besir Zeciri

By Caz Armstrong

Directed by Jeanette Nordahl, “Kød & Blod” (“Wildland”) is a Danish film about a toxic family and the need to belong in a community. It’s a matriarchal mafia genre with the focus on violence within a family not outside. It’s a drama steeped in mistrust and danger.

In a succinct series of shots we learn that Ida’s (Sandra Guldberg Kampp) mother was killed in a crash and she now has to live with her aunt Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and three older male cousins (Joachim Fjelstrup, Elliott Crosset Hove, Besir Zeciri).

Ida is sullen, quiet and withdrawn, thrust into a home which appears to have something sinister going on under the surface.

202011816_1
© Christian Geisnæs

Brown envelopes are changing hands and there’s a tension being played out in the power and affection shown between the family members. There is something sinister in the house and her Aunt Bodil is the matriarch at the top of this dangerous family.

As Ida starts to discover the violence and intimidation that fuels the family’s income but the more she learns the harder it would be to leave. She is a minor in their custody after all.

“As her first ever performance, Sandra Guldberg Kampp expertly plays Ida as broken and scared but willing to do more than you might think. She’s not just a vessel for us to observe the family.”

But she also has found acceptance here. The choice is between a family and a community that (albeit reluctantly) welcomed her when she has nowhere else to go, and a path towards a life of crime and corruption.

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© David Gallego

This is a mafia style story but with a woman in charge. The affection Bodil shows her sons is tactile bordering on aggressive. Part loving, part controlling. She never gets her hands dirty and has the pristine manicure to show it.

Having the story told through a teenage girl’s eyes puts a different twist on the genre as we have our expectations set up then turned on their head.

As her first ever performance, Sandra Guldberg Kampp expertly plays Ida as broken and scared but willing to do more than you might think. She’s not just a vessel for us to observe the family. Hers is the dilemma which is central to the whole film.

“This film offers a different perspective to the mobster films we’re used to seeing. It’s a more human angle to the power structure.”

With a female focus to the film we explore the toxic nature of this kind of family dynamic and power structure by bringing children to the fore. The prospect of a new baby offers a hope that they might settle down and set up a more honest home. But it also represents a new generation being brought up in exactly the same way.

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© David Gallego

There are a few distinctive moments of extreme close up in the film, focusing on a powerful body, a weak body, or a dancing body for example. Each represents one of the chess pieces in the story – power, death and rebirth.

The music pulls out this sense of a broken and desperate humanity. It uses a throbbing, pulsating and haunting soundscape to create a deeply atmospheric score.

This film offers a different perspective to the mobster films we’re used to seeing. It’s a more human angle to the power structure and makes us think about belonging and family not just getting to the top.

Sandra Guldberg Kampps performance as Ida has a great depth and emotion and there are moments of huge shock that will make audiences gasp out loud.

4 stars

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