Whilst ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland might be over (although there are worrying signs that this isn’t the case) it doesn’t mean that those who lived through them can just move on. That’s the natural reaction. Ignore the past and look to the future. It’s something many countries have tried, but refusing to confront our history only stores up problems for the future. This trauma comes back to haunt two sisters in Wildfire.
After the death of her mother, Kelly (Nika McGuigan) disappeared leaving her sister Lauren (Nora-Jane Noone) to pick up the pieces. Missing and assumed dead, years later she suddenly returns to her hometown on the border. Kelly’s taken in by her angry and confused sibling and her husband (Martin McCann). The pair circle warily, but soon regain their former closeness. However, the legacies of the past, both personal and political, are never too far away.
Given the uncertainties raised by Brexit, Wildfire is a particularly timely film. The Good Friday Agreement was always based on uncertain ground but the underlying issues, animosities and hostilities have never been resolved. Cathy Brady’s feature debut exists in this universe. The sisters struggle to move on with their lives (portrayed brilliantly by McGuigan and Noone) as their personal relationships intersect with wider tensions. Violence and anger are never too far from the surface. Wildfire, whilst a touch underwritten, is a powerful drama with strong central performances.
Wildfire screens at London Film Festival until 13 October.