Romance and coming-of-age genres have been incredibly popular in the film world. Wildhood by writer/director Bretten Hannam (first feature film) is a solid addition to those categories. Welcomed in that the story is engaging and the aspect of it involving LGBTQ+ and indigenous teens really gives it a unique viewpoint. More voices to sometimes well worn film genres are often just what the doctor ordered.
Wildfire was a short film made by Hannam and they have now expanded upon that idea with the result being Wildhood. It was filmed in Nova Scotia and the beauty of the nature of that province comes shining through. The film’s screenplay won the Pitch This! competition, which was part of the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Makes sense then, that the film’s premiere happened at TIFF 2021. Now it is continuing on along its festival tour and screening during Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema.
Due to the fact that his mother left leaving him with his abusive white father (Joel Thomas Hynes – appeared in episodes of Mary Kills People and Republic of Doyle), teenager Lincoln or Link, (Phillip Lewitski – appeared in episodes of Vikings and Supernatural) as everyone calls him, has never really gotten comfortable with his Mi’kmaq heritage. Things are about to change when Link finds out that his mother Sarah (Savonna Spracklin – appeared in episodes of Yellowstone and Mohawk Girls) is actually alive. Link, who takes along his younger half-brother Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony – first feature film), decides to head off to try and find her.
The two brothers don’t have a vehicle or any money so getting around is tough. When they run into Pasmay (Joshua Odjick – Bootlegger) and he offers them a lift they do not turn him down. As the two teenagers get to know each other Link begins to realize that Pasmay, who is indigenous, is two-spirit it begins him down a new, unexplored road.
The trio of a young cast really shoulders the load of the film here. They all turn in solid performances. Chemistry is typically the name of the game when it comes to romances and Lewitski and Odjick have it in spades. You see their glances and feel the building sexual tension. Wanting Link to get over his hesitations to let love rule. Also engaging is how the two young people learn about themselves and start along the road that is becoming the people they want to be.
Culture, language, ties to the land, and sexuality are all examined here. The road trip backdrop allows the time and space for these themes to develop and be examined adequately. It is truly a journey of self-discovery for these young people. We all at that age try to figure out where we fit in this world. It is beautiful, occasionally awkward and always engaging to watch.