Director: Cathy Brady
Runtime: 1h 25m
Cast: Nora-Jane Noone, Nika McGuigan, Kate Dickie, Martin McCann
Synopsis: The story of two sisters who grew up on the fractious Irish border. When one of them, who has been missing, finally returns home, the intense bond with her sister is re-ignited. Together they unearth their mother’s past but uncovered secrets and resentments, which have been buried deep, threaten to overwhelm them.
Writer/director Cathy Brady’s impressive debut feature concerns two reunited Irish sisters –Lauren [Nora-Jane Noone – The Descent (2005), The Magdalene Sisters (2002) and Brooklyn (2015)] and Kelly [Nika McGuigan – Philomena (2013), Malicious Intent (2000), Can’t Cope Won’t Cope (TV.2016-2018)] whose lives were shattered with the mysterious death of their mother.
When Kelly abruptly disappears, Lauren is left to pick up the pieces. A year after going missing, Kelly returns home and Lauren is suddenly confronted with the family’s dark and traumatic past.
With their intense sisterhood reignited, Kelly’s desire to unearth their history is not welcomed by everyone in the small town. Rumours and malice spread like wildfire, threatening to push them over the edge.
Two powerhouse performances by Nora-Jane Noone and Nika McGuigan as the sisters dominate in this poignant, sad story about an unearthed sibling relationship; conflicts and personal and social reconciliation is additionally tragic because it marks the final performance of Nika McGuigan, who tragically died of cancer in 2019 at the age of 33.
Ms McGuigan was posthumously awarded best actress at the 2021 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs) for her “outstanding” performance in Wildfire.
Throughout, Cathy Brady weaves her thematic strands together, with the two sisters reconciling with their traumatic past that has been entangled with the province’s thorny history in more ways than one.
The personalities of the finally reunited sisters — so close in age and appearance that they’re known as “the Irish twins” — clash severely at first when they start living under the same roof again. Kelly is hot headed, spontaneous. Meanwhile, Laura is practical, cautious and duty-driven
Nighttime swims in the neighbouring river through which the Irish border passes, drunken nights at a local pub — with an adeptly choreographed, wild dance scene between the duo to Van Morrison— and afternoon walks in town create a false sense of security in Laura. She noticeably starts dialing up her wild side despite the protests of her disapproving husband, Sean (Martin McCann) and relative, Veronica (Kate Dickie). Laura and Kelly are two electric performances setting the screen alight.
But ultimately it all crashes to an abrupt halt when red flags surrounding Kelly crop up again.
Wildfire was filmed in locations across the island of Ireland including Belfast, Newry, Narrow Water, Dundalk and Dublin with visual panache, cinematographer Crystel Fournie echoing the film’s themes using light, shadows and colour
Cathy Brady impresses with her memorable, brightly burning film, but it is tinged with the tragedy of the loss of the great talent of Nika McGuigan.
Images courtesy of: Modern Films