Sundance 2021: Wild Indian

Michael Greyeyes appears in Wild Indian by Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr., an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Eli Born.

Wild Indian is a compelling thriller about a Native American who has essentially rebuilt his life in order to move beyond his past.

Makwa (Michael Greyeyes) has long since moved away from the reservation where he grew up.  It isn’t only that he grew up there but he covered up a classmates murder decades earlier.  But here’s the thing about covering up a murder, nobody is ever really safe.  Even if one thinks they are safe, cinematic history has proven to show that this is blissful ignorance on their part.  We always know what is going to happen next: someone wants revenge or vengeance.  This is what happens each and every time. Makwa’s past catches up to him when Teddo (Chaske Spencer) returns and he’s looking for vengeance.

Makwa and Ted-O would always play in the woods together when they were growing up.  This would completely change on the day Makwa murders a classmate.  After this tragedy, the two friends went their own ways.  Until now.

This film has been nearly a decade in the making for writer-director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.  Even though the film isn’t specifically about him, Corbine Jr. draws on his own experiences with his Ojibwe background.  Even though the filmmaker didn’t experience a murder and cover it up in real life, this film is very much his story in other ways.  You can feel how cathartic it must have been to write the screenplay.  I mean, to take seven years from page to screen certainly shows the passion in getting it made!  It goes without saying that Indigenous filmmakers are the best people to tell their stories.

If you’re coming here for the likes of Kate Bosworth and Jesse Eisenberg, please prepare to be disappointed.  Their roles as Greta and Jerry are minor rather than a large supporting role.  Kate and Jesse being in the cast might pique your interest but Michael Greyeyes is the reason to see this film.  Phoenix Wilson and Julian Gopal portray the younger versions of Makwa and Teddo, respectively.

Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. competently directs feature debut Wild Indian, which also benefits from a stupendous performance from Michael Greyeyes.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER:  Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.
CAST:  Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Phoenix Wilson, Julian Gopal, with Kate Bosworth and Jesse Eisenberg

Wild Indian held its world premiere during the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.