The LFF usually includes a few outré entries, even outside the Experimenta strand and one of this year’s is the German film Wild.
When Ania, a young office worker, spots a wolf on the outskirts of town she decides to pursue it. However, it’s not enough just to see it again, Ania becomes obsessed and wants to catch and domesticate it. When she does, the relationship develops (from her perspective) into a sort of marriage.
The premise is intriguing and Wild explores society’s expectations, particularly of women, in the work-place and in their sex-lives, and where the lines are drawn between eccentricity, oddness and insanity.
But it starts a bit flabbily. The encounter with the wolf isn’t very compelling: rather than fixing her with a piercing stare, it gazes around distractedly (never work with animals or children!) lessening the moment’s power. A few seconds of CGI would have sorted that out. And while her work is unfulfilling, Ania has to deal with a useless sister and her dysfunctional boyfriend, and the slow death of her grandfather. All this conventionalises Wild: stress has driven Ania to this odd behaviour. But both subplots are undercooked and should have been either bulked up or cut altogether: how much stranger it would have been had Ania been drawn to animalistic life simply by seeing the wolf. But that’s to criticise the film that wasn’t made.
So, Act One is a bit slow and diffuse, but things improve once it gets into its stride, hugely helped by Lilith Stangenberg’s central performance. There’s an obvious echo of the mental deterioration of Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion (complete with rabbit), alongside the bestiality of Oshima’s Max, mon amour and even Zulawski’s Possession; all films featuring fearless female leads. But the pacing here is a bit jerkier: after Ania’s relatively slow descent into strange behaviour, a dream sequence that riffs on a popular urban myth/joke kicks off her sudden transformation from a mousey assistant to a dynamic controller and man-eater.
Wild is definitely worth seeing for its interesting premise and a great central performance, but a bit of tightening up wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Here’s the trailer
Writer/Director Nicolette Krebitz
With Lilith Stangenberg, Georg Friedrich, Silke Bodenbender
Production Company: Heimatfilm
Sales The Match Factory
Thurs 06/10 (Vue 5); Fri 07/10 (Curzon Mayfair); Sat 08/10 (NFT2)
Buy tickets here