top of page
  • Writer's picture

Wildhood TIFF Review

Updated: Dec 1, 2021


Directed and Written by: Bretten Hannam

Starring: Phillip Lewitski, Joshua Odjick and Jordan Poole

Film Review by Robert Stayte



Cinema about Indigenous people has rarely been told from a Canadian perspective, nor have they been utilised for the coming of age genre (aside from some exceptions like Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople), as well as the queer romance genre. Along comes a debut feature from writer director Bretten Hannam that aims to explore this perspective and tell a grounded story within these genres. He succeeds with flying colours.

In Nova Scotia, brothers Linc (Phillip Lewitski) and Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony) live with their abusive father in a trailer home. Once Linc finds evidence that his presumed dead mother might still be alive, he runs off with his brother to find her. Along the way he encounters fellow indigenous young man Pasmay (Joshua Odjick) and through him reconnects with his culture, finds romance, and has a lot of encounters on his journey.

Wildhood is drawn from a somewhat familiar cloth of coming of age, hyper gritty and road trip cinema, but what makes it stand out are two noteworthy factors. Firstly, the tone is surprisingly optimistic and heartfelt, never getting too miserable and emphasising the strong emotional bond between these characters. Secondly, the Indigenous cultural aspect, which provides an undercurrent to Linc’s discovery of his mother’s past as well as his own. It also is told in a non-stereotypical fashion, as the representation of its largely indigenous cast is human and real.

All of this is brought to life with remarkable cinematography and excellent acting. Whilst there are quite a lot of darkly lit sequences, the film always remains visually pleasing whilst still emphasising the realism. The slight handheld work and the beautiful natural scenery help create a lived-in environment. Acting wise, Phillip Lewitski gives a sometimes understated, sometimes intense and overall effecting performance, and Joshua Odjick matches him well. They are helped by the dialogue, which flows naturally and gets to the core of each character’s emotional state.

The narrative is also worthy of praise, as it never goes in any outlandish directions, nor does it utilise its story for cheap sentiment. It explores its two young male leads and gives personality and motivation to both of them. It does not waste time on sequences that do not matter and whilst it does have a few too many scenes of the trio of boys running in the woods or near a lake, as well as including an ending that could have been shortened to be more impactful, the editing is still able to carry the viewer through their journey.

Wildhood is an emotionally engaging and thoroughly well-crafted calling card for its writer/director as well as a long overdue step forward for Indigenous representation in cinema. Worthwhile for its grit and uplifting nature.



The UK Film Review Podcast - artwork

Listen to our
Film Podcast

Film Podcast Reviews

Get your
Film Reviewed

Video Film Reviews

Watch our
Film Reviews

bottom of page