Movie review of “Wildlike”: Set against beautiful Alaskan terrain, the film stars Ella Purnell as a runaway teen who finds safety and paternal care from a backpacker (Bruce Greenwood) on a long journey. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
There’s a very large grizzly bear in “Wildlike” who pops up on an Alaskan wilderness meadow traversed by the film’s two lead characters: a 14-year-old girl, Mackenzie (Ella Purnell), on the run from her pedophile uncle (Brian Geraghty), and her reluctant father-substitute, Rene (Bruce Greenwood).
Rene, an experienced backpacker, calms Mackenzie while the bear makes threatening noises to chase them away. Mackenzie, desperate and alone in the world, needs her own mama- or papa-bear. But her father is dead and her dysfunctional mom (Diane Farr) back in Seattle has shipped her to a horrible situation in Juneau.
“Wildlike” hits its stride after Mackenzie flees her uncle’s house, and writer-director Frank Hall Green explores an atypical relationship between a solitary, 50-something man who finds that a vulnerable but determined kid has attached herself to him, no matter what, as he sets off into the wild.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Wildlike,’ with Ella Purnell, Bruce Greenwood, Brian Geraghty, Diane Farr. Written and directed by Frank Hall Green. 94 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Varsity.
Green implicitly asks what any of us would do in that predicament. His spirit of discovery and adventure finding one answer deserves applause, and the story path that opens ahead of him is as full of raw, unfiltered possibility as the rugged terrain he and cinematographer Hillary Spera capture so splendidly.
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Purnell (“Maleficent”) and Greenwood (the rebooted “Star Trek”) are ideally matched. The now 19-year-old actress makes a convincingly amorphous young teen, her Mackenzie as tough as she is scared, convinced her value as a human being is primarily sexual.
Greenwood continues his streak of welcome roles as a sage father figure. Once a respectable journeyman actor, he has become a golden presence on screen in his autumn years. Here’s hoping he stays on the trail.