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WANDER

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by Rosa Friedrich

grade: 6.5

Rosa Friedrich has made Wander a living, pulsating, sincere and passionate feature film, in which images of young people resting on the lawn, playing blades of grass as if they were musical instruments, and serenely coexisting with animals become its greatest peculiarity. At the Diagonale’22.

Sky, sea, nature

The end of the world seems inexorably close. There seems to be no trace of humanity left on Earth. The sky and the sea meet, become one, seem to finally merge into a single entity. What has become of the human being, however? Director Rosa Friedrich has staged an unusual pre-apocalyptic situation in her feature film Wander, which premiered at the Diagonale’22.

This is undoubtedly a courageous operation, considering that Wander was made with a rather low budget and a small crew. And yet, despite a few imperfections, this little feature film has several interesting elements. But let us go step by step.

On a now practically desert island, three young strangers meet. Initially, each of them is bewildered, struggling to adapt to this new reality, feeling ill, struggling to find their own balance. Things change, however, the moment they are joined by another mysterious character: a man who does not speak, but who seems to be much more at ease with this strange environment that surrounds them.

Human beings, nature, animals. In Wander, we finally see these three elements find – albeit initially with difficulty – common ground, their (imperfect?) harmony. Wander stages a sort of return to the origins through the end of an era. An apocalyptic scenario that culminates when fish start raining from the sky.

This topic has already been dealt with over and over again by various filmmakers over the years, no doubt about that. Yet Rosa Friedrich has made something extremely intimate and personal, a little and precious film that in its simplicity fully renders an extremely topical concept and makes the urgency of finding harmony between man and nature its main protagonist.

We agree: Wander is not a perfect feature film. In order to stage the sensations and hallucinations of the protagonists, in fact, it often relies on psychedelic colours and sometimes ‘excessive’ visual effects, which ‘contaminate’ an overall interesting aesthetic, in which the most realistic approach possible and a frequent use of shoulder cameras prove to be the right solutions to make us identify with the young characters. Just like them, we too initially feel confused, we do not know where we are or what is happening, we almost experience the same feelings of malaise experienced by the youngsters.

Rosa Friedrich has made her feature film a living, pulsating, sincere and passionate work, in which images of young people resting on the lawn, playing blades of grass as if they were musical instruments, and serenely coexisting with animals become its greatest peculiarity. The end is near. What if it is, instead, the beginning of something new and beautiful?

Original title: Wander
Directed by: Rosa Friedrich
Country/year: Austria, Germany, Ireland / 2022
Running time: 86’
Genre: drama, surreal
Cast: Sophie Vautour, Paul Boche, Eleni Jana Stampfer, Vikas Narula
Screenplay: Rosa Friedrich
Cinematography: Joanna Piechotta
Produced by: Filmakademie Wien, Nyx-Filmkollektiv

Info: the page of Wander on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Wander on iMDb