WILDLAND (Kød & blod)
Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Jeanette Nordahl
Writer: Ingeborg Topsøe
Cast: Sandra Guldberg Kampp, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Joachim Fjelstrup, Elliott Crosset Hove, Besir Zeciri
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 8/13/21
Opens: August 20, 2021 at New York’s Film Forum
“Wildland,” whose Danish title means “flesh and blood,” is a gangster film, a crime drama, one in which a murder takes place which leads police to intimidate the person they believe should be easiest to crack and confess. But if you’re looking for another “Godfather” (though a loyal family is involved), you’ll have to look a lot father than Denmark where the action takes place. (Given that “Wildland” is filmed in the Danish ‘burbs, you would not guess the location unless you spotted the spoken language as Danish.)
This is a muted story, too low key for a Hollywood-only audience, more suited to the kinds of indie-lovers that may have seen it at a festival. In her freshman entry, one that will lead the proper audience to keep their eyes on direktør Jeanette Nordahl to watch for later contributions, the film, which highlights strong female performances, opens with a car turned upside down. Seventeen-year-old Ida (Sandra Guldberg Kampp) survives, walking away later to receive a cast on her arm, but her alcoholic mother dies. What’s to become of Ida, who not surprisingly asks her social walker to set her up in her own apartment?
No deal: she is sent to live with her long-estranged aunt Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen), who demonstrates throughout the story her love for her three sons Jonas (Fjel Joachim Fjeolstrup), David (Elliott Crosset Howe) and Mads (Besir Zeciri). A good deal of the time, Ida acts as would an American high-school senior, who would doodle while her teacher drones on about the Congress of Vienna. She is understandably upset, not acting hysterical as some kids might, but appearing so indifferent to her new family that you might wonder why they do not return her to the social worker as though she were a phlegmatic Basset hound.
She bonds with one boy’s girlfriend, shows signs of life at a dance hangout, then slowly becomes more attached and at home to such an extent that when she is driving with the boys and witnesses a murder, she knows that she is dealing with a loan-sharking, criminal gang. Will she testify against them when the cops browbeat her, or will she obey the iron-fisted family matriarch who pleads with her to keep silent because “family is everything.”
Happily, direktør Nordahl does not fill the soundtrack with music as a Hollywood regisseur might do but instead opts to give Frederikee Hoffmeier permission to include pulsating music at the film’s major climactic moment. All leads are doing stærkt arbejde (strong work), with young Sandra Guldberg Kampp delivering a thoroughly believable set of reactions each time she discovers something new about this atypical suburban clan.
“Wildland” was featured at the 2020 Berlin Festival. In Danish with English subtitles.
88 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B
Overall – B