By Don Simpson | September 25, 2015
Director: Frank Hall Green
Writer: Frank Hall Green
Starring: Ella Purnell, Bruce Greenwood, Brian Geraghty, Diane Farr, Joshua Leonard, Nolan Gerard Funk, Ann Dowd, Joe Boxer The Bear
Mackenzie (Ella Purnell) arrives in Juneau, Alaska filled with a heartbreaking sadness that is accentuated by the thick black makeup encircling her eyes. Her father died and her mother is receiving treatment, forcing the 14-year-old to leave Seattle and live with her closest relative, an uncle (Brian Geraghty) she has not seen in many years. Mackenzie is visibly scared to be living with a total stranger — and she proves to be totally justifiable for her state of discomfort.
When Mackenzie’s path intersects with Bart’s (Bruce Greenwood), it seems nothing less than fateful. They are two lost souls, listlessly wandering around Alaska, deeply traumatized by their familiar pasts. While at first it seems Mackenzie has latched herself onto Bart, the reality of who needs who grows increasingly blurred. Mackenzie wants to return to Seattle as quickly as possible, while Bart seems determined to take the wandering and wondering path there. The two of them become engulfed in the staggering natural beauty of Denali National Park, even despite the constant threat of bear attacks, their idyllic surroundings lull them into a state of comfort. The expansively unpopulated terrain of Denali is so cinematically intoxicating, it serves as the perfectly primal backdrop for Mackenzie and Bart to recalibrate and renew their lives.
Frank Hall Green’s Wildlike astutely steers clear of melodrama while contrasting the predatory and fatherly ways of men. As a result, the film is a mesmerizing contemplation of human behavior — both heart-wrenchingly negative and sweetly positive — that is bolstered by the utterly sublime performances of Ella Purnell and Bruce Greenwood. Wildlike pensively relishes in the quiet, meditative moments experienced between Mackenzie and Bart, passively observing the subtle twists and turns of their interpersonal dance.