Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A dark, mythic, mysterious "coming-of-age" in Fritz Böhm and Florian Eder's WILDLING

That unusual little actress Bel Powley (of Diary of a Teenage Girl) does another memorable turn as the lead and titular heroine of a new and quite welcome addition to the werewolf genre: WILDLING.

As co-written (with Floridan Eder) and directed by Fritz Böhm, a young German filmmaker new to me, the film boasts the wonderfully mythic, all-encompassing darkness and foreboding of a Brothers Grimm tale involving family, would-be family and a necessary but extremely difficult coming-of-age.

Herr Böhm, pictured at left, has done an excellent job building both tension and empathy for his fish-out-of-water heroine, brought to fine and quite specific life by Powley's very "lived-in" performance. The actress, below, beautifully captures the innocence of her character, as well as her increasingly frightening aspects.

The filmmaker has done a particularly welcome job of capturing the strange and storybook atmosphere that makes his movie seem as much like some modern version of an odd old folk tale as anything else.

There's the abandoned child, the missing parents, the fairy godmother -- in this case, a godfather in the shape of a wild woodsman (James LeGros, below) -- and of course the something-like-a-curse that hangs over all. 

Appearing in the excellent supporting cast are Liv Tyler (below, who also produced the movie) and the original Chucky, Brad Dourif (two photos below), and especially Collin Kelly-Sordelet (shown at bottom), a young actor new to me who takes the rather standard juvenile lead and turns it into a genuinely felt journey from initial annoyance to attraction, protection and love.

Mostly though it's Ms Powley and the filmmaker's ability to combine atmosphere, dark beauty and smart cinematography (by Toby Oliver) into a kind of timeless tale of the animal in us that must come out.

As the movie rises to its conclusion, a few too many genre cliches sprout (without being handled by the filmmaker in any unusual way), but the ending is sad, sweet and brings us full circle. Less a horror film than a dark fairy tale, Wildling proves a very nice, if oddball, addition to its genre -- the best we've seen since Paul Hyett's Howl back in 2015.

From IFC Midnight and running 92 minutes, the movie opens this Friday, April 13, in New York City at the IFC Center and in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinelounge Sunset) -- with a simultaneous release on VOD and digital HD.

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