Girl sees wolf. Girl falls in love with wolf. Girl proceeds to tranquilize and capture wolf, domesticate it, sexualize it, then quits her listless day job and goes completely wild.
That’s the premise of this strange German film, directed by actress Nicolette Krebitz. Despite Wild being her first foray into direction, she proves that she’s no stranger to the film scene, showing a keen eyes for detail and gratuitous shots that highlight Ania’s (Lilith Stangenberg) rapid descent from office drone to feral beauty.
Wild is a hypnotic film. Despite its uncommon premise, you’ll be drawn into Ania’s one track mind and obsession with taming the wolf. Ania’s methods of capturing the wolf are the result of severe tunnel vision, her every action meticulously planned out with every intent to succeed, from buying pet rabbits to draw the wolf out, to hiring Asian women from a second hand clothes sorting factory to aid her. We’re aligned with Ania’s mission, and cheer internally as she lugs the unconscious wolf back home, locking it in an empty room. Her seemingly inconsequential life is given new meaning, no more the makeshift secretary at the firm she works for, no more the ‘responsible sibling’ taking care of her ditzy younger sister.
This is the point where the film diverges, and Ania’s plans stop. She never plans this far ahead, never stopping to wonder what happens next. What follows is a release of Ania’s id, slowly taming the wolf by feeding it quality raw meat (which she then consumes herself), eventually to the point she allows the wolf to perform cunnilingus on her. These sequences often tow the line between reality and dream, such as an extended scene of her sliding backwards down the banister, with slow R&B music playing in the background, and often feel like Ania’s inner fantasies given a space to come alive, unrestrained by her urban setting. There is complete freedom we feel here, as she lets go completely of her former life, allowing her instinct to take over – flirting with janitors in her boss’ office, before proceeding to have sex with the boss on his office table, then defecating over it, and setting the room on fire.
Ania cannot resolve her urban life and wild life for long, as she begins to experience the problems normal people do, be it running out of money, or her neighbors complaining about the stench and noise caused by the wolf. In the final scenes of the film, she runs away with the wolf, allowing it to lead her into the wild. It is here that she is truly free of the restraints of society, lapping at pools of water and waking up in fields of gold. In a sense then, Wild positions itself almost as a feminist film – Ania becomes a ferocious, sexual creature, controlling her boss’ desires, she’s no more confined to social constructs. It’s not the most elegant of films, but it certainly makes a point for breaking the ennui of inner city living and doing what makes you feel something again.
Wild is a difficult film to enjoy. It’s uncomfortable to watch in many instances, and various decisions and events are absolutely bewildering, even with its bewitching cinematography. But perhaps every once in a while, one needs a film to come along and wake us from our urban stupors, and rediscover the wild animals within all of us.
Wild screens during the London Film Festival. Tickets available here