TCFF 2015 is now done and winners have been announced, but the coverage hasn’t quite wrapped just yet 😉 Today we’ve got two indie dramas, each starring a strong female lead (always welcomed in my book) telling a compelling story. So hope you get to see them when they’re opened in your area!
It’s fitting that the Twin Cities Film Fest showed “Krisha” as we will all shortly be thrown again into the holiday season, a time of year that can be full of tumult for many people. This feature debut by Trey Edward Shults, which won the Grand Jury and Audience Award when it had its world premiere at South by Southwest last year, focuses on one woman’s attempt to overcome her troubled history and reconcile with her wary family over the Thanksgiving holiday.
While the supporting cast members have infrequent but powerful scenes, the movie really belongs to Krisha Fairchild, the silver-haired matron of addiction and dysfunction, who delivers an unflinching glimpse of someone in the throes of an emotional breakdown. Fairchild is Shults’ real life aunt and I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like to film your aunt portraying a woman battling but ultimately unable to overcome her internal demons. There is a lot that is not explained in this movie, but the camera work helps us fill in some of the blanks – Krisha, staying at her sister’s house, is given a room at the top of the stairs where she is sometimes seen ominously glaring at the extended family downstairs. Numerous scenes of the turkey cooking seem to be a metaphor for a disaster soon to come – emotions rise as the temperature heats up, drawing us closer as everything goes to hell.The one quibble I have with the film is the use of strange tonal music during the first 30 minutes – perhaps it’s supposed to be a harbinger of upcoming drama, but I just found it really distracting. Ultimately though, you’re left with a mix of compassion and horror for a woman one of her relatives coldly tells her in one scene, “You are heartbreak incarnate.”
A troubled teenager named Mackenzie (Ella Purnell) is sent to stay with her uncle because her mom is having some personal issues. Her uncle (Brian Geraghty) lives in Alaska, Mackenzie who’s living in Seattle did not like what she sees. There’s an uneasy feeling that Mackenzie doesn’t like being around her uncle. We later find out that her uncle has been sexuality molested her. While on a site seeing with her uncle and his friend at some park, Mackenzie decided to escape. Now lost in a city that she’s not familiar with, Mackenzie broke into a hotel room and here is where she met a hiker named Rene (Bruce Greenwood). Rene has come to Alaska to hike its wilderness and Mackenzie wants to tag along. After some arguing, the two set out in the Alaskan landscape and got to know each other.
Newcomer Purnell was quite good as the lead; she basically appeared in about 99% of the movie. She was very believable as the troubled teen that obviously has been abused throughout her young life. I’ve always been a fan of Greenwood and here he’s good very good as sort of a father figure to Mackenzie. His character also has some trouble background and he’s in Alaska to heal some wounds. Brian Geraghty was decent as the creepy uncle even though his time on the screen was pretty small.
Writer and director Frank Hall Green did a good job of setting up the mood and never try to be preachy with the story. With so many beautiful locations in the Alaskan wilderness, I was kind of disappointed that he and his cinematographer decided to shoot the movie in a gritty documentary style. But despite the gloomy look of the movie, there were still some very nice shots of the lush beauty of the Alaska’s landscapes. A movie like this tends to have an ending that would either shock you or just downright depressing, I’m glad Green didn’t go that route and even though the ending was kind of ambiguous, it was satisfying to me.
Wildlike is not a great movie but a good one that deserves to be seen mostly for the two leads’ performances and some of its beautiful scenery.
Stay tuned for Part II of the TCFF Short Films reviews & my Top 10 Favorites of this year’s film fest!
What do you think about either one of these films?