STREAMING REVIEWS: My year of drama

Published September 24, 2021, 7:57 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

Here are two films that play up the drama, and do so within very topical settings. Together is set during the COVID lockdown in London, while Wild Indian speaks of the social dilemma that Native Americans face today.

Together (Video On Demand) – We’ve read often enough about shooting within a bubble, and how production can go on even during lockdown; but it hasn’t been often that we’ve had a film from the West that specifically deals with the lockdown, and tries to humanize what we’ve been going through over the last year and a half. This film does that exactly, as it opens in March 2020, as Britain is about to go into lockdown. We see a married couple, played by James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan, bringing their groceries and essential goods into the house they share with their special needs son. And with cutting humor, the two are on a tear, explaining how they actually hate each other, and if wasn’t for their son, they wouldn’t be together anymore, and how lockdown will be virtual Hell.

Stephen Daldry, who directed Billy Elliott and The Hours, is at the helm here, working from a screenplay by Dennis Kelly; and it’s staged like we’re watching a play, with the constant breaking of the fourth wall, as the couple often talk to us, the audience, seeking sympathy or understanding for their plight, or how we’re all together in this ghastly situation. It truly works in spurts, as the overwhelming impression the film makes is like if a couple we know, was sitting us down, and griping and unloading all their ‘dirty laundry’ over 90 minutes non-stop, and we can’t get in a word. The script is razor sharp and there is a lot of comedy, but I’ll have to admit, it can get tiring. The last sequence is dated March 2021, so it’s a testament of sorts to how we’ve all surviving through this pandemic, and how Life and Hope goes on.

Wild Indian (Video on Demand) – It’s not often that we watch a film about native Americans, and we put them in a contemporary setting that isn’t anchored on life on the reservation, or how they’ve been stereotyped and treated so poorly by American white society. So I’ll hand it to the producers behind this film, of which Jesse Eisenberg is one, for trying to come up with a fresh approach to the portrayal of these Indians. The movie splits into two basic time frames. One is when the characters played by Michael Greyeyes and Chaske Spencer were just children, and how a tragic, fatal shooting scars them for life. And there’s a prologue that has to do with an Indian from olden times, staying away from his people and deciding to die on his own, because he’s been infected with some disease contracted while mingling with the whites.

The second time frame has to with today, and how the character played by Greyeyes, seems to have assimilated, putting his tempestuous past behind him, and is living the rose-tinted life, with a Caucasian wife (played by Kate Bosworth), and working in a company with Jesse Eisenberg, cameo-ing as his boss. When the character played by Spenser comes out of jail and resurfaces, it brings old open wounds to the forefront and fundamentally questions how far they’ve been able to put their past behind them. It’s also implied that much more than their own individual and troubled past, there’s also the whole identity and legacy of being Native Americans bearing down on them. It’s a gripping drama that hinges a lot on personal circumstances; and decisions and choices that one makes in life. Just wonder if this kind of film will capture an audience here.