Wildland

 

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A Danish crime drama puts the spotlight on two fine actresses.

 
Wildland

Sandra Guldberg Kampp and Sidse Babett Knudsen

 

Quite a number of recent films have concluded with a final section that rather lets down what has preceded it and this Danish debut feature by Jeanette Nordahl again falls into that category. Nevertheless, there is much here that works well and it reveals Nordahl, whose previous work was for television, as a director of confidence. Although the screenplay was written by Ingeborg Topsøe, the idea for it came in part from Nordahl herself and her story is a vehicle that enables the two leading actresses to impress us. One, taking on her first major role in a feature, is Sandra Guldberg Kampp who plays 17-year-old Ida and the other is the well-established Sidse Babett Knudsen in the role of Ida’s aunt.

 

I have seen reviews of Wildland which, while praising the film, compare it in detail to a work from another country which made an impression some years ago. But even to do that would leave me uneasy because making the comparison immediately gives away the kind of story that is being told here. The opening scenes of Wildland have their own impact. They are admirably taut and succinct starting with a shot of a car upside down. This is the vehicle in which Ida’s mother had been driving and in which she lost her life. The event leads to social services approving when the aunt, Bodil, invites Ida to live with her despite having been distant from her sister and therefore from Ida herself. Ida soon encounters her cousins - the married Jonas (Joachim Fjelstrup), the unsettled David (Elliott Crosset Hove) who turns up with his girlfriend Anna (Carla Philip Røder) and the younger Mads (Besir Zeciri) who is something of a mother’s boy in what is a close-knit family. But, once these characters have been quickly introduced, the drama become an effective slow-burn and the less disclosed here about what happens the better. The development covers issues about how this family functions, the extent to which Bodil is a matriarch who rules the roost and the ultimate response to all of this on the part of Ida.

 

That Ida observes but talks little is persuasive and, if her outlook can be enigmatic, that does not prevent Kampp from being compelling. However, her attitude does seem rooted in a quest to be part of a family in a way that she had not been when with her own mother. The latter had been an addict and an early voice over by Ida refers to her being repeatedly questioned about both her aunt and her mother. That suggests the importance of her mother’s behaviour and its effect on her, but even late on the film fails to divulge enough for this aspect to register properly. Even so, Wildland comes across as being Ida’s story and she is on screen for longer than anybody else. Consequently, it seems bizarre that the final scene should shift the key focus to another character. But, if Wildland offers less than complete satisfaction, there is nevertheless plenty here to admire.

 

Original title: Kød & blod.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Sandra Guldberg Kampp, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Joachim Fjelstrup, Elliott Crosset Hove, Besir Zeciri, Carla Philip Røder, Sofie Torp, Omar Shargawi, Maria Esther Lemvigh, Frida Sejersen.

 

Dir Jeanette Nordahl, Pro Eva Jakobsen, Mikkel Jersin and Katrin Pors Erst, Screenplay Ingeborg Topsøe, from an idea by Ingeborg Topsøe and Jeanette Nordahl, Ph David Gallego, Pro Des Helle Lygum Justesen, Ed Michael Auglund, Music Puce Mary, Costumes Emilie Bøge Dresler.

 

Snowglobe Films/Dert Daneke Filminstitut/Danmarks Radio/Film Fyn-Picturehouse Entertainment.
89 mins. Denmark. 2020. Rel: 13 August 2021. Cert. 15.