Review: 'Wildhood' a Courageous Journey of Self-Discovery

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday June 17, 2022

'Wildhood'
'Wildhood'  (Source:Wolfe/Hulu)

the most heartbreaking moment in Bretten Hannam's film festival favorite movie "Wildhood" might be just after the two main leads — Link (Phillip Lewitski) and Pasmay (Joshua Odjick) — have made love for the first time. Pasmay asks whether Link has ever had sex before, and Link responds, "Not like that." It's a reply that could mean a million things, given that the two have consummated their same-sex attraction while skinny-dipping on a moonlit night, but seeds planted earlier in the film suggesting that sexual abuse was part of Link's home life suddenly take on a new meaning, and Link's words reverberate with trauma and heartache — but also hope and healing.

The two are on a road trip, looking for Link's mother, a member of the Mi'kmaw tribe, who Link has grown up thinking was dead. When life with his drunken father grows intolerable, Link goes rummaging for the keys that will give him access to his motorcycle, thinking he'll escape — but what he finds is a trove of letters that prove his mother is still alive. In a rage, Link takes his younger half-brother Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony) and flees into the night; later on, the two cross paths with Pasmay, who is about Link's age and who instantly sees that they are runaways

What start as an offer of a ride becomes an adventure as the trio track down a series of clues, drawing always closer to Link's mother. Along the way they encounter prejudice, institutional disregard for Mi'kmaw beliefs and culture, and a variety of people, some helpful and some less so.

Pasmay — a pow wow dancer who's also on his own journey, headed for a ceremonial gathering — acts as the voice of reason. Is Link setting himself up for disappointment, chasing after someone who doesn't seem to want to be found? He's only giving voice to Link's own questions, which are associated with a host of fears and questions. Why did his mother leave him? What if she doesn't want him? What if, by now, she really is dead?

The film abounds with strange moments, left turns, desperate chances, and coincidences. Somehow, they find their way, and a story about looking for one's roots becomes a voyage a self-discovery — not to mention a sweet same-sex love story. It's no wonder "Wildhood" created such a buzz and took an armload of awards. Now that it's set to stream on Hulu, a wider audience will discover its charms.

"Wildhood" has a theatrical release in Los Angeles June 17, followed by its streaming debut on Hulu on June 24.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.