Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Sundance ’16: Wild
are solitary creatures, but they mate for life. Perhaps that is why Ania is
attracted to them. By ‘attracted,” we mean in the most provocative way
possible. The call of the wild is strangely seductive to her in Nicolette
Krebitz’s Wild (trailer here), which screened
during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
is a mousy office drone, but her blowhard boss can see just enough of the swan
beneath her ugly duckling exterior to skirt the boundary of sexual harassment.
Yet, Ania hardly seems to notice. She just plugs away, maintaining her
emotional distance from everyone around her. One night, she locks eyes with a
wolf on the edge of the woods surrounding her drab apartment building.
Strangely, it is her first real connection that we know of. Soon she is leaving
meat for it, hoping to win its trust. After an aborted attempt, she
successfully entraps and smuggles him into an abandoned flat in her complex.
the wolf is generally not receptive to her plans. He is rather loud, hostile,
and smelly, demonstrating several reasons why exotic pets are such a terrible
idea. However, as their “courtship” progresses, Ania and the wolf come to an
understanding. Yes, it will have a physical component. Yet, she is not just
drawn to the wolf. She also finds his “lifestyle” enticing.
is important viewers do not confuse the various films simply titled Wild. One features a beautiful actress doing
awards caliber work and the other is a light-weight Reese Witherspoon vehicle.
Fortunately, this is the former (though technically it is the later
production). It also seems to bear comparison to Roar, the notorious Tippi Hedren film, in which the cast was
regularly mauled by poorly trained lions. Human-wolf proximity is downright
intimate here as well. It all gets rather alarming for safety reasons, rather
than prurient concerns. However, wolf trainers Zoltan Horkai and peter Ivanyi
deserve credit for the masterful control, as does lead actress Lilith
Stangenberg for her nerves of steel.
it is a bit of a surprise Stangenberg did not walk away with this year’s
performance award. This is one of the darnedest empowerment arcs you will ever
see, but she makes every animalistic step believable. Krebitz’s aesthetic is
pretty severe and she lets the film get a slow start out of the blocks, but
somehow she manages to take the potentially lurid material and make it feel
dignified and cerebral.
bad Sundance does not have an animal handling award, because Wild would have won in a landslide (the
same would have been true for White God last
year). If you want to see a film about human-lupine relations and not feel
guilty or embarrassed about it afterward than this is the one you have been
waiting for. It is also worth seeing for the rest of us, thanks to Stangenberg’s
fearless (in several ways) breakout performance, so expect to see it programmed
aggressively, following its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Labels: German Cinema, Sundance '16