Review: Wastelands (2020)


Directed by: Kemal Yildirim | 97 minutes | drama, romance | Actors: Natasha Linton, Kemal Yildirim, Sean Botha, Amy Ellis, Nicola Wright, Tessa McGinn, Dominic O’Flynn, Lorie-Lanie Shanks, Ian Ross, Kelsey Williams, Abbey Fitzpatrick, Summer Fitzpatrick, Monty Kazmi

Psychodrama from the perspective of the unstable Alice (Linton), who tries to find her way in adult life within a visually excellently elaborated framework. Whether stirring food or having sex, the viewer is drawn into the maelstrom of her mind. For some viewers it will be difficult to sustain – little is said or switched back to a rational mode, this is the translation of the main character’s state of mind.

Without a doubt a conscious choice of the makers. Keeping measure (especially in the field of sex scenes) and good timing is also an art, and in that respect the English “Wastelands” remains at a conceptual stage. You could also argue that a psychically unstable mind does not adhere to linear dramatic rules, but the maker has to make the step towards the viewer; not scare her or him away with overkill or fuss, is our humble opinion.

Including this imperfection, “Wastelands” is an experience in itself. In the film there is a stage act, at least a high focus is required of the actors, and there too it could have been a bit better. Such a film does not require a good debut or anything of that nature, but top actors like Timothy Spall and / or Cate Blanchett. Despite good intentions and acting, the film goes too far for ambition.

“Wastelands” needed a top-heavy cast, that much is clear. Still possible of course. We haven’t talked much about the plot yet, but that’s not necessarily necessary. There is a duel of rapprochement and repulsion with a lover (Yildirim) and caring for an old father (Botha) – a bit much for the viewer’s attention. At the end, she learned something about Alice’s past. What doesn’t matter that much; the film is concluded in its own style.