London Film Festival 2020: Wildfire Review

Next up with the 2020 London Film Festival, I decided to go for a drama and, seeing what was in the schedule, this one did stand out. Given the premise of the film that the BFI put up, I decided to give this one a shot. On the whole, I’d say this is a pretty good film, but it did need a bit more time.

The film focuses on sisters Kelly and Lauren, who live in an area near the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Kelly had been missing for a few years prior to the events of the film and one day returns to Lauren’s home. After Kelly returns, rumours start to go around over what happened to her, along with re-emerging rumours about Kelly and Lauren’s mum. There are interesting ideas raised in the film about the nature of mental illness and the difficulties that they can cause someone without a proper support network. I also think the way the film handles the damaging nature of rumours effectively and how rumours can end up causing a lot of harm to people, depending on how personal they can be. The central relationship between Kelly and Lauren is well handled, demonstrating the love that the two have with each other, but also the difficulties that the two have and how much damage was done by Kelly’s disappearance. There are some elements that I do think could have had more time given to them. In particular, there’s a political element in the film involving the legacy of The Troubles and the ongoing issues of Brexit that come into play, but not enough time is given to these elements. I think the film needed to be a little bit longer in order to properly explore these elements.

For the performances, Nika McGuigan does a great job showing the emotional vulnerability of Kelly. It is a raw, powerful performance that does a great job showing the lingering issues that the character’s mums death had on her and her difficulties in reconciling the death with her own psyche. Nora-Jane Noone as Lauren meanwhile is great at showing her own frustrations with life and the damage done to her by Kelly’s disappearance, along with her feelings of guilt over everything that has happened, particularly with their mum. The chemistry that McGuigan and Noone have is excellent and sells the sisterly bond the two have. In supporting roles Kate Dickie and Martin McCann are solid, showing the way they feel towards Kelly and Lauren and their own efforts to help the two, but in a way that shows their actions are more self-centred than actually trying to understand the issues that the two of them have.

Overall, Wildfire is an engaging film, buoyed by the strong performances from Nika McGuigan and Nora-Jane Noone. Whilst I do think the political elements of the film needed more time in order to be explored in depth, the core emotional weight of the film is strong and this ended up being an engaging watch.

My Rating: 3.5/5

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