Movie Review: ‘Wildcat’

Review by James Lindorf

Deep in the Peruvian jungle, an orphaned baby ocelot needs help to survive. Survival is just the beginning, but if he hopes to be the first to return to the wild, it will take an unproven plan and a special team to make it a reality. Passion, love, and depression are a potent and volatile mix in directors Melissa Lesh and Trevor Beck Frost’s feature debut “Wildcat.” After touring the festival circuit, including a stop at Heartland International Film Festival, “Wildcat” had a limited theatrical release beginning on December 21st and is now available on Amazon’s Prime Video.

Hoja Nueva is a charitable organization that focuses on protecting and fortifying Amazonian biodiversity. The group is run by Samantha Zwicker, a young American woman passionate about animals and conservation. One of the functions of Hoja Nueva is running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. This center attracts the attention of young British veteran Harry Turner, who is looking for a new cause to pour himself into. Harry and Samantha begin a complicated relationship of boss/employee, friends, and lovers as they work together to save as many animals as possible. When they are called about a baby ocelot, Keanu, it will change everything.

With the success and failures associated with working with animals in a remote and dangerous area of the world where laws are loosely enforced, life can be stressful. After he was medically discharged for recurring depression and PTSD, Harry tried to find comfort in his old life. After finding nothing for him there, he began searching the world for his happiness. For a while, he thought he found it in the rainforest with Sam and Keanu, but as Keanu nears his release date, emotions run high or low in the case of Harry. Whether or not Keanu would survive his release was always questioned, but now two lives are hanging in the balance.

“Wildcat” is a beautiful film both visually and in its raw expression of emotions. The footage was captured by Lesh, Frost, and Harry. For first-timers and a novice, it is pro-quality that could have premiered on The Discovery Channel or National Geographic at any time. Still, it is more at home on an IMAX screen where the large format could help audiences feel the vastness of Keanu’s new home. With the way the story is presented, there isn’t anyone you don’t feel for. They even give you a bit of sympathy for the illegal loggers because they are not the final ones benefiting from deforestation. You can not watch the film and not care deeply for Keanu, Samantha, and Harry. There is the case to be made that Lesh and Frost put the story and money ahead of Harry’s well-being. Self-harm and talk of suicide should never be taken lightly, and it appears that Samantha is the only one that gives it the attention it deserves.

“Wildcat” is a must-see for fans of nature documentaries but has plenty to offer those whose hearts are not sent aflutter by cute little animals. That doesn’t mean it will be all smiles for animal lovers because you are often reminded of the brutality of nature but that aside “Wildcat” is a pleasure and earns a 4.5 out of 5.

Rating: R
Genre: Documentary
Original Language: English
Director: Melissa Lesh, Trevor Beck Frost
Producer: Melissa Lesh, Trevor Beck Frost, Joshua Altman, Alysa Nahmias, Trevor Frost
Release Date (Theaters): December 21st, 2022 Limited
Release Date (Prime Video): December 30th, 2022
Runtime: 1h 46m

No Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.