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  Wild Indian Race Memory
Year: 2021
Director: Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr
Stars: Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Jesse Eisenberg, Kate Bosworth, Lisa Cromarty, Tres Garcia, Phoenix Wilson, Julian Gopal, Scott Haze, Joel Michaely, Jenna Leigh Green, Kaleo Francisco, Claudia Lee, Sherry Foster, Colton Knaus, Jennifer Rader
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Back in the eighties, when he was a young teen in school, Michael (Michael Greyeyes) was a troubled kid thanks to the amount of bullying he had to suffer, and it began to harden his resolve inside. At home things were not much better, a hostile environment that also threatened violence, so the only real respite he could take was when he was outside in the surrounding forests of the reservation he lived on, his cousin Ted-O (Chaske Spencer) this sole companion. Something had to give, a destructive act that was born of the abuse he received daily, and it came when he, originally called Makwa, aimed his cousin's rifle at a fellow schoolboy...

Low key but intense, Wild Indian was the ironically titled debut feature from Native American director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr, one of those films that did not so much garner praise for the quality of the experience of watching in itself, but had many people thinking, "Right, well done - but what else can you do? What comes next?" That did this effort a disservice even as it paid tribute to the manner in which its drama stayed in the mind, for this was worth a look, and at under ninety minutes was not going to take a huge chunk out of your day whether you enjoyed it or not, if anything it was too brief for its weighty issues and implications.

Nevertheless, its depiction of a cycle of death and violence brought about by so-called civilisation was obviously deeply felt, bookended as it was with an ancestor of Michael's dying from smallpox brought over by the white Europeans to take a terrible toll on the indigenous population of North America, and this was not even mentioning the genocide that was attempted on them, though our antihero does get to that at some point. He describes himself as the descendant of cowards, since the only ones of his race to be worth anything died fighting the invaders, and this terrible shame appears to have shaped his personality to the extent of psychopathy.

Michael, as we catch up with him in 2019, seems to be adjusted to his life as he has embraced the ways of white, corporate America, nice job, trophy wife, one bouncing baby boy and another on the way, playing golf on an exclusive members only course, and so forth. But what about his other interest: paying strippers to be choked by him in a sordid power game of twisted sexuality? Or the way he cannot bear to look at his son most of the time, for fear of connecting with him and actually feeling some empathy for another human being? And then there's the matter of his past, where he murdered that schoolboy and Ted-O helped to cover up the crime, dismissed as yet another disappearance on the reservation among many?

This lack of respect for anyone who is not in the "ruling" class and race is something Michael has taken to heart, and Greyeyes' performance was remarkable, conveying everything that was in Corbine's screenplay yet also more, not exactly making us sympathise with his character, as he is a kind of a monster, but making us understand he is the product of centuries of injustice and therefore, while he should take responsibility for his actions, so should those who made him this way. But what has happened to Ted-O in all this time? They drifted apart after the killing, and when we discover it has affected him, a good kid to all intents and purposes, far more damagingly than Michael in terms of their social standing, the scene is set for some uneasy reckoning. With Jesse Eisenberg and Kate Bosworth adding star names to the cast list, a fine gesture that may get more watching it, maybe outside of Greyeyes and Spencer this played it too vague, and it was on the overextended short side, but you don't see movies like this every day. Music by Gavin Brivik.

Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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