Title – Wastelands (2020)
Director – Kemal Yildirim (Rose)
Cast – Natasha Linton, Kemal Yildirim, Sean Botha, Amy Ellis
Plot – Dealing with a troubled romantic relationship and the ailing health of her estranged father, Alice (Linton) finds herself in a life she no longer understands, in what is an exploration of mental health, family and love.
“It will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me”
Review by Eddie on 05/05/2020
The titular wastelands of the title of prolific filmmaker/actor Kemal Yildirim newest effort (an extended version of his short film Saudade) are not the wastelands of a post-apocalyptic society or those of the industrial type but more so the wastelands of one’s mental state, built up around a troubled family life and an even more damaging romantic relationship.
Wastelands explores the crumbling life and mental state of Natasha Linton’s Alice (in what acts as a particularly brave performance from the actress), a hospitality worker who finds herself back in a potentially damaging relationship with her on and off again boyfriend Tristan and also back in the life of her ailing father Wilhelm, whose fragile physicality means Alice needs to care for a figure who didn’t always show the love and care she needed as a teenager.
It’s grim stuff, with Yildirim (also showing his multitasking skills as Tristan) not afraid to explore some fairly confronting material in his contemplative drama, that chooses in most instances to tell the story through imagery and carefully considered sound design rather than dialogue heavy exposition, making Wastelands a film you flow through rather than live in for the time you’re allotted with it.
This feeling is never more evident than in Wastelands characters outside of Alice remaining rather illusive, with Tristan most noticeably getting little character depth or motivation as he flies in and out of various scenes (mostly in some form of intimate manner), with Wastelands strong production values and visually strong output undone by a sense much further development was needed in the creation of its central players.
For an independent offering, no doubt financed through the blood, sweat and tears of those it involved behind the scenes, Wastelands strong cinematography and unnerving and finely attuned score by Kosta. T showcase a film that is not content living within its financial boundaries but no amount of technical nous or above average production control can ever compensate for narrative drive and character depth, something Wastelands needed further refinement on.
With enough promise throughout in various forms, there’s no doubt Yildirim and Wastelands leading lady have the skill and ability to craft out impressive careers, careers that will hopefully grow from the experience of such a feature as this.
Final Say –
A meditative and at times confronting dramatic offering, Wastelands is an at times impressive low-budget offering but one that suffers severely from an under developed set of a characters and a narrative that is content with the less is more approach to storytelling that isn’t sustainable for the films full 90 minute runtime.
2 1/2 sponge baths out of 5