Add a Review

  • cekadah26 February 2015
    Director/writer Michael Johnson has offered a wonderful film about finding the 'self'.

    Here we have James Charm with an obsession for dead things like birds, insect, and wilderness dwelling creatures and sketching their dead bodies into his journal. James also visits a therapist, reluctantly. There is something bothering James and we the viewer are kept in the dark until the end of the story as to what he is depressed about.

    To find himself he sneaks out at night and goes into the inner city. This is James wilderness. We learn earlier in the story that his father told James about the wonders of the wilderness and that we all have some of that wilderness within us. James is looking for himself and there is one scene with his therapist (Danny DeVito) that is James awakening moment. He discovers he cannot ever know why his father .... He can only know about himself!

    This is a sensitive movie wonderfully edited and filmed. I was particularly taken with how director Michael Johnson portrayed James inner demons. The story is about growing up and learning about the world we live in as opposed to the world within us.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Imagine watching your father jump off a bridge? Woah. That would mess you up pretty good. He keeps drawing pictures of dead animals. To capture them in time. To freeze time in that moment of death. He wanted to understand why his dad would kill himself. Especially when he says stuff like "the wilderness is inside of all of us". This is could be chaos or serenity. The kid tried to understand this message that was passed down to him. In the end, he realizes that he is not like his dad. He chooses to stop living in his cursed life any more. He said his life was cursed. That he could see when people would die. Well, he actually literally saw his dad die. So he meant that he could tell when his dad was going to die. He sensed the inner torment, the wilderness, inside of his dad. He projected that onto his outside world. To try and find some answers he had to become close with death, and to try and understand it at a young age.
  • James Charm (Kodi Smit-McPhee) gets into a fight with a schoolmate. He's obsessed with death and infuriates others with predictions of their deaths. His frustrated mother Abigail Charm (Virginia Madsen) sends him to psychiatrist Dr. Pembry (Danny DeVito) who wants him to attend a special school. He falls for fellow patient Val (Isabelle Fuhrman). He's in the city at night where he's befriended by Harmon (Evan Ross).

    Kodi's gawky weirdness is interesting. Isabelle's darker edge is also pretty interesting. There are some surreal touches that could be interesting but it needs to be more consistent. Harmon and the street kids have potential. It's all potentially great. The main missing ingredient is intensity. Other than the delusions, there is a lethargy to the movie. I guess it's the sense of depression coming from James due to his family issue. Despite the fights, I may need him to scream.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This indie story revolves around the teen James Charm, portrayed by Kodi Smit-McPhee, who's very intelligent, likes to read, sketch in a notebook, and listen to Chopin. However, since his father passed away, some 6 months before, he's been extremely withdrawn and uncommunicative, and we will only learn very late in the film the shocking details of his father's death.

    Seemingly unable to express himself to his mother (Virginia Madsen) or even his therapist (Danny DeVito), he will befriend both Val (Isabelle Fuhrman) and Harmon (Evan Ross) in two separate chance encounters, and they will help to draw James out of his shell somewhat.

    The movie was written and directed by Michael Johnson, and is only 1 hour and 16 minutes in length.

    In summary, although the acting here is solid, the script doesn't allow for the viewer to really know anything below the surface about the characters they're depicting. Thus, for me, they became sort of clichéd caricatures and I couldn't totally "buy into" their individual stories. One of the plot elements near the end of the movie is quite shocking, but it came across as rather gimmicky as well. Thus, all in all, a fair rating here.
  • nogodnomasters23 September 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    James Charm (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a Portland youth learning to deal with the death of his father. He doesn't like the guy his mom hangs out with and he has become obsessed with death, predicting the death of people and animals sometimes to the hour and day. He is socially inept and his mom (Virginia Madsen) takes him to a psychologist ( Danny DeVito). James "rebels" and meets a group of other misfit children in Portland's nightlife.

    This is another slow moving indie style film almost as boring as "Boyhood." "Wilderness" is yet another metaphor for "Life." (Ugh!) About an hour into the film we find out "the secret" that haunts young James, something he has held in and I would have thought come out long ago. Now I will say the acting in the film was fine. Plot and character development was good. I just didn't find the production entertaining in a sea of indie films about screwed up kids trying to figure out life. I spent the whole film waiting to see if Cory, the guy he predicts will die, does so or not. I really needed closure.

    Good view of the Vista Bridge. Indie lovers, go ahead and watch it, you know you want to.

    Guide: F-bomb. No sex or nudity.
  • I didn't read the summary before watching, but I should have. I was expecting a family adventure about a teen or teens in the wilderness. In fact, it's in a city and the "wilderness" is symbolic.

    I get the impression this was a quality production, but just not the sort of thing that would appeal to me. Most of the leading actors do a good job, and Evan Ross in particular stands out as Harmon, and Harmon's music is quite good (if you like that sort of thing). He can even do what sounds like Chopin. I can't say for sure it was, but from what he said, it must have been.

    One scene has some creative editing. James and his girlfriend are at the lake and the audio continues throughout the scene even though it doesn't always match the video. A lot of the time we are just seeing them having fun in the water as they continue to talk.

    If you like seeing young people rebel against those who only care about their best interests, and you like terrible music that young people enjoyed in the 80s, this might be for you.
  • chinch_g16 December 2017
    This is the kind of film for which cinema was invented ! Probably made on a tiny budget, it looks utterly beautiful, tells a simple story in a poetic way and moves deeply. It oozes atmosphere and doesn't take a single wrong step. I can't recommend it highly enough!