Netflix released the South African film, “Wild is the Wind,” in late October 2022. This gripping crime drama, running just over two hours, takes us on a murder investigation of a young woman named Melissa (Izel Bezuidenhout). But it’s not your typical crime flick; it’s so much more. The resolution of the case rests in the hands of two of the city’s finest agents, Vusi Matsoso (Mothusi Magano) and John Smit (Frank Rautenbach), who aren’t exactly known for their honesty.
The plot thickens as the story unfolds in a city where racism permeates daily life. While crimes against people of color are often forgotten, Melissa receives preferential treatment due to her skin color and her connection to the mayor as her niece.
Wild is the Wind: A Social Critique Disguised as Investigation
Directed by Fabian Medea, “Wild is the Wind” marks his debut, and overall, he has done a commendable job. Admittedly, there are moments when the plot seems to lose its way, leaving the protagonists meandering aimlessly. Some scenes, intended to clarify, can be disorienting, leaving us bewildered. Medea chose to prioritize visual storytelling in these moments, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions. However, at first, many of these scenes may confuse.
“Wild is the Wind” is not purely a crime investigation; it is primarily a drama that aims to criticize the ongoing struggles faced by people of color in South Africa. The movie highlights how individuals are treated differently based on their location and whether they are white or black.
Unsurprisingly, privilege favors the white population, while black individuals are unjustly blamed for their children’s deaths. I won’t dwell on this topic, as I, like many others, am tired of it, much like the empowerment movement. However, in this case, the film addresses these issues with clear motives and explanations, which is appreciable.
If you enjoy social dramas with a sprinkle of other elements, “Wild is the Wind” will likely captivate you. However, if you’re seeking a full-fledged crime investigation, this isn’t the movie for you, even though the entire plot revolves around Melissa’s murder. It simply doesn’t fit entirely within that genre.
Corrupt Cops Amidst a Crime
In the first few minutes of “Wild is the Wind,” we are introduced to the two main police officers. The director takes his time to provide personal backgrounds for both characters. Vusi is a married man eagerly awaiting the arrival of his first child. He resides in a modest neighborhood and aims to move his family out of there by earning money through illegal means.
On the other hand, John lives with his wife on a farm, struggling to make ends meet. He requires the funds gained through illicit activities to sustain their livelihood. Even in these initial moments, the stark differences between the two officers are evident. Although they are close friends, their contrasting paths gradually pull them apart to a point of no return.
As I mentioned earlier, the dramatic element permeates “Wild is the Wind,” blending seamlessly with the crime investigation. The movie’s brevity underscores the racial discrimination it seeks to expose.
Now, whether I would recommend “Wild is the Wind” depends on the individual. If you’ve made it this far, you probably have a sense of what awaits you if you hit that play button.
At first glance, I would only recommend this film to those who appreciate social dramas, with the caveat that the dialogue isn’t the film’s strong suit and the drama primarily stems from a sense of fury. If you do decide to give it a chance, I hope you at least find some enjoyment in it and don’t bail halfway through.