Directed By: Jeremy Saulnier
Written By: Macon Blair
Based On The Book By: William Giraldi
Cinematography: Magnus Nordenhof Jonck
Editor: Julia Bloch
Cast: Jeffrey Wright, James Badge Dale, Alexander Skarsgard, Riley Keough, Beckham crawford, Anabel Kutay, Julian Black Antelope
Retired naturalist and wolf expert Russell Core journeys to the edge of civilization in northern Alaska at the pleading of Medora Slone, a young mother whose son was killed by a pack of wolves. As Core attempts to help Medora track down the wolves who took her son, a strange and dangerous relationship develops between the two lonely souls. But when Medora’s husband Vernon returns home from the Iraq War, the news of his child’s death ignites a violent chain of events. As local cop Donald Marium races to stop Vernon’s vengeful rampage, Core is forced on a perilous odyssey into the heart of darkness.
The film feels like a smaller story even though touches on a bigger stage. Though as it starts we believe it is about one thing then slowly reveals what it is truly about.
The film seems to focus on the more animalistic nature of humans and how different yet similar some can be if they allow themselves to give into those impulses. The film seems to be burnt around a constant threat that you are never sure of but are always aware of Not knowing where the film is going.
So you are discovering everything along with the character. Even as all the other character seem to know something that is built into themselves and their culture.
James Badge Dale gives a likeable and noteworthy performance as the sheriff. Which in any other film would probably be the hero and the lead. Though Jeffrey Wright comes off as an strange intellectual Everyman and the one who is more full center.
The introduction to Alexander Skarsgaard character who seems to treat violence as a second nature that never seems to affect him. A she see’s humans as disposable. As he seems to follow the law of the jungle but goes out of his way to help kill and give justice to a innocent woman early on. Yet for his good deed a random incident seems to quickly punish him.
What makes his character so unnerving is his quiet and unemotional he is. As he generally always seems to come out of nowhere and you can never truly read him.
The violence on display is realistic and more graphic. Shocking in a way we might be used to from the director but if you are a novice might be surprisingly brutal.
The third act like the rest of the film has a strange motivation and ends up meditative. As Remote as the characters are the film feels the same way. Rarely going where you expect as for instance there is nudity but no sex.
No matter what the film does it is hard for it not to remind the audience for or at least come In second to the movie WIND RIVER from the previous year that made a bigger splash.
Director Jeremy Saulnier tries, as his films usually offer things from either a different point of view. While providing a familiar story or involve scenes where you can honestly witness and say that you haven’t seen that before or never presented in quite that manner.
While the film offers a tricky narrative and an unforgettable shoot out which not only is a great action sequence and one of the most memorable scenes of the entire movie.
The film never quite feels that engaging and never rises to the heights of expectations and feels almost muted to a degree by itself and the director seeming to want to scale back .
As the film is based on a novel it feels as if something is lost in the translation. As it feels like it is based on something dense and details are not being communicated clearly or entirely.