Wastelands Film review

★★★

Written and Directed by: #KemalYildirim

Starring: #NatashaLinton, #KemalYildirim, #NicolaWright, #TessaMcGinn and #SeanBotha

Film review by: Brian Penn

Wastelands Film Review (2020)

The concept of time and memory is increasingly fertile territory for film makers and Wastelands is no exception. Director Kemal Yildirim creates a desolate landscape and pulls no emotional punches with a narrative that works like a magnet.


The first twenty minutes of the film are dialogue free; a risky strategy that fortunately pays off as the audience are able to observe the central character and draw their own conclusions. Alice (Natasha Linton) leads a solitary existence in a sleepy commuter town. Endlessly distracted and bored with the present she dreams of the past. Flashbacks to a passionate relationship with Tristan (Kemal Yildirim) provide cold comfort. Elements of compulsive behaviour are obvious as she constantly washes and grooms, bordering on self-harm. She finds some focus as a café employee but cannot escape the predatory attention of the owner.


Her world grows darker when step mother Dolores (Nicola Wright) pays her a visit. Her father Willhelm (Sean Botha) is now seriously ill and requires constant care. Dolores unloads responsibility on Alice as old tensions begin to fester. Visions of mother Mary-Rose (Tessa McGinn) return to Alice as she cares for her father. Her relationship with Tristan is rekindled, but is unsettled by her father’s presence and emotional baggage he carries with him. All try to find resolution and peace but will the future be ruled by the past?


Where Alice begins as a one dimensional character further layers are added to create a fully rounded and complex persona. Family dynamics come to the fore as key events are seen in flashback and we gain a much clearer idea of the life she led. The troubled individual we now see requires our empathy and support. The surrounding characters seem to have their own agenda and invite the audience to pick a side. Which itself is a true indicator of effective storytelling as it becomes an immersive experience. However, the film is too often buried in a pit of depression that threatens to rob the narrative of any hope or positivity. However, cast and creatives should be satisfied with the end product and prove they are to be watched with interest.