Review: Wild Indian (Sundance 2021)

Title: Wild Indian
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director:  Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.
Starring: Michael Greyeyes, Kirstyn Anderson, Evan Assante
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins 

What It Is: M’kwa (Phoenix Wilson) lives in an abusive household. His mother is not his ally and his father figure is less than stellar. He’s picked on in school and it eventually leads to a decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Now a grown man (played by Greyeyes) those demons of the past seek to destroy the new life he’s crafted with his wife (Kate Bosworth) and child.

What We Think: Corbine’s craftmanship is simply fantastic. His narrative work here is really well done. I do wish the all-important time shift from act one to two was a bit more…obviously stated. It’s only a momentary loss of plot but nonetheless a little jarring. The pacing is fine and the acting is great especially Michael Greyeyes in the lead role. He’s equal parts smart and cunning. Sadly his Michael (changed from M’kwa) is not a protagonist we like in particular. This normally hurts a film…when it’s the main character is an unlikeable prick. The film’s attempt to garner sympathy falls flat. That’s actually a testament to Greyeyes as a believable villain. I think I missed the point of the opening and closing scenes. If anyone has an indication of what that’s about I’m all ears.

Our Grade: B-, There’s so much to like here. Support this film! Gavin Brivik (who we had the privilege to interview. See below) brings it when it comes to the score. Shot selection doesn’t stand out but I think the subtle hand of Corbine works much better for this manner of the story than an overly artsy direction would.  Instead, the grounded almost gritty feel makes this a thriller with heft, gravitas, and a sense of impending doom to all those who feel the need to bring up the skeletons in Michaels’ closet.