Viewers watching Wildhood probably have different levels of privilege or lack thereof. I preface this review with that assumption because some of the words I write might reflect a different person. Someone with more or different privileges than the ones I perceive to have. Anyway, in my subjective opinion, this film show a bit of what drives people apart and what links them together. Race is one of the factors causing the former but age and class can cause the latter. We can see this in one scene involving Lincoln or Link (Philip Lewitski) and his half-brother Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony). Another main player in the scene is Pasmay (Joshua Odjick), as all three cause a ruckus outside of a white man’s store.
On the one hand, if I was that white guy, I wouldn’t want youths causing a ruckus near my business. On the other, these three youths from different racial backgrounds and sexual orientations have something in common now. All see the white guy as a common annoyance. And thus, they all get in Pasmay’s truck and drive away, the strangers turning into friends. This, by the way, is one leg of Link’s journey in finding his mother, Sarah (Savonna Spracklin) in Mi’kmaw territory. He looks for her after finding out that his father Arvin (Joel Thomas Hynes) has been lying about her death.
One thing about Link and Travis is that Link is 2LGBT+ and part Mi’kmaw and Travis is a settler and straight. The film doesn’t show a lot of interest in Travis, although the character is aware of the changes that Link is going through. Link’s changes manifest through the screen in how it depicts himself and Pasmay, although in doing so, it doesn’t show those transformations as total. In films about adolescent emotions, a protagonist has a love interest and there’s a certain lens in which films portray love interest. Wildhood goes full love interest mode in depicting Pasmay. But then it returns to depicting him as a regular person even within the same scene.
Wildhood mostly deals with its young characters. A normal coming of age film would have focused on the bubble that these characters live in. But this is also a road movie where these characters have to explore the adult world and encounter other grownups. They meet a pastry chef (Michel Greyeyes) who introduces them to an Indigenous drag queen who was Sarah’s former employer. Director and writer Bretten Hannam faced hurdles when pitching a 2LGBT+ film, and I’m so happy they stuck to their guns in showing viewers this fictional world.
The last great thing about Wildhood is its depiction of the landscape as the young characters drive further into Mi’kmaw territory, which the camera depicts with love. Days turn into nights as Link gets closer to his mother and as these young characters discover more about themselves.
Watch Wildhood at TIFF.
- Release Date: 3/11/2022