A story of sacrifice for love, The Wilding follows Malcolm, a hardened borstal inmate, who’s in love with his cellmate Tye. As Malcolm faces an opportunity for parole, a feud with other inmates escalates, with Tye being targeted as Malcolm’s weak spot. Malcolm is forced to choose between his own freedom and protecting the one he loves.
Most short films are mini-movies in themselves. They often suffer having been crammed into such a short space. It is very difficult for filmmakers to convey enough in 15 minutes: something usually falls short, be it narrative or character development.
The Wilding, on the other hand, is a brief glimpse into a story which has been running before you arrived, and will continue long after you have left. It is a window into somebody’s very existence: the narrative is his life, and these are just a few events that occur within. A fleeting glimpse, like crossing a river, you experience just a small part of the waterway, but are acutely aware of its full might.
This is raw Australian filmmaking at its best. Combining the visceral brutality of Romper Stomper and the gritty terror of Chopper, The Wilding holds its own against films of this caliber, while still shocking those numb to their effects.
The fly-on-the-wall camera style, while very rarely distracting, serves to heighten the realism and tension as you become part of the story. In an instant you are there. It is no longer a film, they are no longer actors. You are in the borstal, present at each event, every fight, every suspense. It is electric and it is terrifying.
It is refreshing to see a gruff fighter as a confident gay man. There are no camp stereotypes here, no mincing and no effeminate voices. Malcolm is a brute, a ruffian. His moments of tenderness are subtly detectable under a coarse exterior. The acting is mesmerising.
Even the corrupt and manipulative warden has enough of the cliches to satisfy the audience’s need for familiarity, but Scicluna still turns the stereotype on its head. While his methods and means are questionable, his motives are clear: the warden has Malcolm’s best interests at heart.
With enough breathing space in each scene for you to imagine what is going through the minds of the characters during each event, the action is still a hostile assault on the senses. Your skin will ripple with goosebumps as Malcolm’s determinedly satisfied stare cuts through the warden, time slowing to a grinding halt leaving the question: ‘Why?’
Love. That’s why.
Overall Opinion: Given the brevity of the film, its ability to invoke shivers and spark adrenaline surges is incredible. Your eyes will be wide, pupils dilated, too transfixed to look away; too involved to even blink. The unsteady camera serves to heighten the realism, fueling the rush as you are transported there, and put into danger. The tribal portrayals are brutal, the romance as delicate as it can be in such a setting. How can a love story be so horrifyingly chilling and heart-warming at the same time? This is a gripping masterpiece.
Writer: Adrian Naik