Magazine article Screen International

The Wilderness of James

Magazine article Screen International

The Wilderness of James

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Michael James Johnson. US. 2014. 76mins

Kodi Smit-McPhee is gloomily spot-on as an emotionally tortured teen doing his best to try and deal with the death of his father in Michael James Johnson's feature debut The Wilderness Of James, a film that may well tread familiar indie drama territory, but does so with a good deal of sensitivity and class.

Kodi Smit-McPhee has the brooding, soulful, charm to work well as the tormented James.

The film, which premiered at SXSW, is smartly cast - it also features Virginia Madsen and Danny DeVito - which could help sales, while Smit-McPhee's rising profile (he plays a similar role to the one he played in last year's A Birder's Guide To Everything) reinforces the film's credentials. Niche distributor sales may be a possibility, while the film should also play at further film festivals.

Smit-McPheeplays James, a young man whose enthusiasm for nature is his only way keeping as association with his dead father who used 'wilderness' as a metaphor for emotions. James likes to go off on solitary walks, sketching dead things in a book (as young folk are prone to do). He doesn't really get on with his mother (Virginia Madsen) who sends him on visits to a psychiatrist. …

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