Runtime: 88 minutes
Director: Jeannette Nordahl
Writer: Ingeborg Topsøe
Stars: Sandra Guldberg Kampp, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Joachim Fjelstrup, Elliott Crosset Hove, Besir Zeciri, Carla Phillip Røder
By Morgan Roberts
In her feature film debut, “Wildland”, Jeannette Nordahl takes audiences on a haunting rollercoaster. Ida (Sandra Guldberg Kampp) moves in with her aunt, Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen) after her mother (and Bodil’s sister) dies in a car accident. At first, Ida is delicately embraced by Bodil and her three sons. But as the film progresses, Ida learns that the club Bodil runs and owns is not what sustains the family. Rather, Bodil and her sons, Jonas (Joachim Fjelstrup), David (Elliott Crosset Hove), and Mads (Besir Zeciri) are loan shark debt collectors. As the matriarch, Bodil forces her sons to be the muscles of the family crime operation. As a new member of the family, Ida starts to join in on the business, but learns that the high stakes also come with real consequences.
If from this synopsis, it sounds like you’ve seen this film before, then you’re not necessarily wrong. “Wildland” has many moments which mirror David Michôd’s film “Animal Kingdom” (2010). Both films have an orphan living with their estranged family, the family operates a crime ring, and our young protagonist gets in way over their head. While the frame of the two films are made of the same bones, there are many aspects of “Wildland” that separate it from the Australian film.
“At the helm of “Wildland”, Guldberg Kampp gives a stellar performance as the quiet and introverted Ida.”
In “Wildland,” there is a constant feeling of dread. You are never quite sure exactly what the stakes are, but you can feel this house of cards being built, and sense how quickly it could fall. Likewise, while it is known the muscles exist, it is not what is keeping the business running. Bodil, the brains of the operation, sets the expectations. Her sunny disposition coupled with her sheer ruthlessness creates a level of uneasiness that permeates the film. Most of all, what separates this film from the likes of “Animal Kingdom” is how it is just imbued with trepidation without letting you know precisely why you are anxious the entire way through.
At the helm of “Wildland”, Guldberg Kampp gives a stellar performance as the quiet and introverted Ida. She lets her emotions shine through in a more visceral manner than through Ida’s words. You can sense her internal struggles and the way she acts as if she knows what is happening, while still trying to piece together everything that is going on. Knudsen provides the most captivating performance. She makes Bodil a woman more violent and merciless than any of the men in the film one moment, and then crafts a mother desperate to be the glue to her family.
“Wildland” may not be the most revolutionary film storytelling-wise, it is the performances that make the film stand out.
“Wildland” will be showing at Fantasia Film Festival from 20th August to 2nd September.