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REVIEW: Wildfire

Wildfire Review

When Kelly (Nika McGuigan) finally returns home after being presumed missing for two years, she turns her sister’s (Nora-Jane Noone) life upside down in this tense family drama set in Northern Ireland.

The film boasts wonderful performances from its two leads as Kelly and Lauren. Haunted by ghosts from their past in a small town on the border of Northern Ireland, they can’t escape the looks and whispers of townsfolk. As Kelly tries to settle back into a normal life, we see the cracks appear. Whilst spinning out of control, sister Lauren is torn between the quiet and stable life she has made for herself or falling down the rabbit hole with her sister.

Director Cathy Brady captures the claustrophobia of living in a town full of such bad history and the inescapable burden of living with your parents’ mistakes. Flashbacks are used sparingly throughout to show the intense and at times traumatic relationship the girls had with their mother, and she balances the story of each girl well. From the outset, we can see that McGuigan’s Kelly has a myriad of issues and buried secrets to deal with, but it is actually when Noone’s Lauren starts to unravel that the film’s tension picks up a notch.

Brady, who also wrote the film, examines the electric bond not only between sisters but between two people who share lived and inherited trauma. The film is a question on how far one can go to protect their loved ones, but also how long can two people cope in such a co-dependent relationship before it leads to negativity.

There are points at the start where it seems to hint on the ongoing conflicts that have plagued Northern Ireland for decades, though this falls to the wayside very early on. I enjoyed the simplicity of the film and being able to immerse myself in this loving but toxic relationship between two deeply damaged women.

The performances are the highlight of the film with Noone and McGuigan having perfectly matched chemistry, as seen in during an electrifying dance scene around the midpoint of the film. Both women convey a whole mix of emotions as they try to process their grief, anger and resentment. Sadly Nika McGuigan passed away last year whilst the film was in post-production, but her performance is a testament to abilities.

Wildfire (2020) 1h 25min | Drama | 16 September 2020 (Canada) Summary: The story of two sisters who grew up on the fractious Irish border. When one of them, who has been missing, finally returns home, the intense bond with her sister is re-ignited. Together ... See full summary »
Countries: UK, IrelandLanguages: English
Clare Brunton

Ex film teacher and frequent couch potato. I try and see at least one new release a week, but I've somehow got to 30 without having seen The Godfather?