Film Review: The Fleeting Glow of Wildhood | Cultural festivals | Halifax, Nova Scotia


In the world of savagery, it’s always the golden hour or the pale yellow glow of a soft full moon. Everything from trash to wildflowers, to the honeyed glow of reflected light from a campfire. Set in the last hours of Link’s childhood, the main character, the ambiance of the endless sunset makes sense: finitude and beauty stand out.

Filmmaker Bretten Hannam says it took about a decade to film in depth savagery to reach the world, as industry insiders were often reluctant to queer and indigenous history and subject matter. These very facets of the performance: Link is two-spirit and struggles to connect with his Indigenous roots as he searches for his presumed dead mother; her love, Pasmay, is a powwow dancer who whispers sweet words in Mi’kmaq, this is what makes the film a landmark.

Watching the film, I was first struck that I had never seen so many Indigenous actors on screen at once before. In the end, I was struck by the reality they imbued with: the convenience store where Pasmay and Link accidentally meet reminds me of the one near my grandparents’ house (and the store owners are similar too). These are country roads that those of us who grew up on the east coast took, populated with trucks full of people we met. While Pasmay Joshua Odjick is shirtless enough to make Taylor Lautner proud, watching savagery finally look at a world where whiteness is a minor character.

Escaping from a violent home with his younger half-brother, Link’s journey through the Annapolis Valley is as much about connecting with himself and his roots as it is about meeting his mother. Sometimes that translates into heaviness: Link’s fist is always wrapped around a birthday card his mother sent, which he frowns a lot; a shortcut for her absence from her life is conveyed in intentionally blurred shots of her face.

But the film is at its strongest when it turns away from the family who have given up on their leads and instead delves into their thrill-filled connection (even if their most intimate moment borrows too heavily from Moonlight). Walking through the countryside together and bathed in this magical light, the two young people learn to be themselves while Pasmay teaches Link the powwow dance.

One flaxen morning after, next to a thundering waterfall, Link asks Pasmay to “Say something.” In our language. I like to hear it. Pasmay responds, in Mi’kmaq, “You act angry all the time. And maybe you are, but you have a big heart. You care more than anyone I know.

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