This film was previously reviewed in October 2020 as part of our London Film Festival coverage.

Wildfire bursts onto the screen with Kelly (the late Nika McGuigan) returning home a year after being reported as missing; her sister, Lauren (Nora-Jane Noone), overwhelmed to see her once again. Instantly it raises a hundred questions about their situation, but after a promising first half-hour, things, unfortunately, start to become muddled.

Kelly and Lauren’s father died in a bomb blast, and their mother died a few years later. Both women are haunted by the memory of their mother, her death partially unexplained, with Kelly in particular obviously suffering from her mental health condition too. Things become a little clichéd in regards to the town’s perception of the family, with the whole “a crazy woman lived in that house” becoming tiresome and unnecessary.

There are just so many elements to Wildfire squeezed into an 85-minute runtime that, while never being unenjoyable, it does at times feel frustrating. Director Cathy Brady expertly conveys the immense trauma still felt today by families in Northern Ireland, torn apart by past conflict in their hometowns. This alone makes for a very interesting film, however, the multiple layers added on top of it just don’t gel together.

Characters and their motivations seem to become increasingly confused as the film goes on. Lauren rapidly goes from being the strong, stable sister to suddenly appearing to have lost her grip on reality, mimicking her sister’s behaviour even when it’s not entirely clear why. Their aunt Veronica and Lauren’s husband are painted as being the “bad guys” in an instant, which feels misjudged and odd.

McGuigan and Noone’s performances are faultless and heartfelt, but the script lets things down when it starts to fall into clichés, and unfortunately, the final resolution is wholly unsatisfying. With just a slightly longer runtime and fewer ideas crammed in, Wildfire would hit the mark.



CAST: Nika McGuigan, Kate Dickie, Nora-Jane Noone, Martin McCann

DIRECTOR: Cathy Brady

WRITER: Cathy Brady

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.