A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film centers the importance of family bonds and loyalty. However, it also shows the potentially isolating and dangerous side of an intense connection that becomes closed off from the rest of the world.
Positive Role Models
Lauren is shown to be strong, practical, and supportive of those around her. She is protective of her sister, Kelly, standing up for her against local gossip. But this quickly becomes defensive and isolates them from the help of others. Kelly is portrayed as wild, free, and sometimes selfish, though there are indications that she may be suffering from mental health problems that affect her behavior. Lauren's husband, Sean, is kind and understanding to a point, becoming frustrated with the sisters' behavior and refusal to accept help.
Characters are exclusively White, which is likely reflective of the small Irish town represented. Briefly a character with a middle-eastern accent is shown to be kind and helpful. There are references to mental health, but characters are not seen to be open or understanding about the issues. The sisters' mother is described as "mad," "crazy," and "away with the fairies," and it is implied she may have suffered with depression and taken her own life. Lauren is described as having "taken to her bed" and lost her job and Kelly is referred to as "crazy like her mother." A woman with a limp due to an artificial limb is made fun of by a character, though this is called out by those around her.
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Violence & Scariness
News footage related to "The Troubles" between nationalist and unionists in Northern Ireland includes marches involving rifles, burning flags, explosions, and buildings in rubble, as well as coffins and funeral processions. Death of a parent in a bombing is mentioned, and it is implied another character lost a leg. There is frequent mention of a parent's death in a car crash, and multiple indications that they may have taken their own life. Characters are punched in the face, resulting in a bloody nose on one occasion. Another is threatened with a knife. Characters are hit by cars and injured, with cuts and grazes to the face and torso. A child holds their breath under water for too long and becomes scared.
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Language includes "s--t," "bitch," "f--k," "f---ing," "hell," and "bloody." "Jesus" used as an exclamation. Name-calling related to characters' perceived mental health problems include "weirdo," "crazy," and "mad."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol in pubs to the point where they appear mildly intoxicated on one occasion, dancing wildly and jumping on cars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wildfire is an intimate and powerful Irish drama with strong language, violence -- both referenced and portrayed -- and themes around mental health. After being reunited, two sisters, Lauren (Nora-Jane Noone) and Kelly (Nika McGuigan), are forced to face up to personal and generational trauma. In reference to "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland, there is mention of people losing their lives in bombings. Characters are hit by cars and threatened with knives. Unspecified mental health problems are referenced, as well as suicide. Strong language includes variants of "f--k" and "s--t." Characters drink alcohol and exhibit signs of intoxication. There are adult themes and political references, that may make it unsuitable for younger viewers. But for more mature audiences the film is likely to captivate throughout. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Writer-director Cathy Brady makes a strong first impression with her debut feature film about the intense reunion between two siblings haunted by family history, generational trauma, and political unrest. Wildfire is a powerful 85 minutes filled with great complexity and some potent visual flourishes that emerge from the understated direction. The focus is always first and foremost on the two sisters -- Lauren and Kelly -- their psychological worlds experienced as strongly as any of the physical settings surrounding them. Referred to as "Irish Twins" having been born less than a year apart, the bond between the sisters is intense. At points they clash angrily, at others their very beings seem to bleed into each other, as they dance in primal unison, an elemental connection taking hold, or as they position themselves in such close physical proximity that their bodies could easily be conjoined.
This uneasy ebb and flow, tension between unison and divergence, is reflected in the political boundaries in the background. The characters cross the Irish border in the local river, playfully switching between shouting "I'm in the north," and "I'm in the south," further enforcing the sense of blurred lines between two separate yet inevitably connected forces. Skillfully acted by both lead actors, the film is a real tour de force. Noone and McGuigan fully embody the characters and, despite the increasingly dangerous spiral, make it easy to root for these two unbound spirits, pulling at the tethers of their past and surroundings to finally break free.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.