I have been so busy watching movies at the Phoenix Film Festival that I haven’t had time to review any of the ones that I’ve watched yet! Time to change that. The second movie I watched at the festival on Friday was a film called WildLike, starring Bruce Greenwood and Ella Purnell. It was one of several drama movies that I’ve now seen over the last two days. In my own experience, films at the Phoenix Film Festival tend to be of a higher quality than most movies I see in the theater these days. As a friend of mine put it when I was trying to explain it, it just seems like the people making these movies are more passionate about their craft. I added that they are not in it just to make money, which seems true. They are more about telling a story and hoping their audience appreciates it as much as they do as opposed to just making a film that looks appealing enough to get people to buy a ticket so they make some money, which is what a lot of films out of Hollywood seem to be trying to do these days.
WildLike definitely tells a good story. It’s the story of Mackenzie, a teenage girl who’s been dealt a hard lot in life up until this point. Her dad has just passed away and her mom is heading to a drug rehab center, so Mackenzie goes to live with her uncle in Alaska. The relationship with her uncle soon turns sour and Mackenzie heads out on her own with little cash to try to make it back to Seattle where her mother is. She soon realizes it won’t be easy and discovers Bart, a lone hiker with scars of his own. The movie is about their story as they try to make it across the Alaskan wilderness.
The main characters in WildLike, Mackenzie and Bart, are the kind of people that you meet in this world that have become hardened enough by life that they almost try to make it hard for you to like them. One common theme in several movies I’ve seen at the festival so far, WildLike included, is a lack of trust. As humans, a lot of us have learned (or thought we learned) that people in general can’t be trusted. Everyone’s been through a lot, and it’s pretty much all been caused by other people. Why should we let any of them in? We don’t know who might be the next one to hurt us.
The thing we have to learn, though, and the thing that Bart and Mackenzie come to learn in WildLike, is that we must trust someone. Despite what we’ve been through, despite what people might have done to us in the past, we need other people. No man is an island, and in Mackenzie’s case, she couldn’t make it on her own. People do dumb things, and there will always be the possibility of getting hurt, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still need each other.
WildLike tells the story of two hurt souls venturing across an amazing backdrop of beautiful scenery who learn what it’s like to trust again and what can come of that. It’s a story we could all stand to hear, and the filmmakers did it beautifully in WildLike. We find two characters in Bart and Mackenzie that we can sympathize with, and the telling of their story made for a very scenic and moving film.