Makwa (Phoenix Wilson) and Teddo (Julian Gopal) are cousins growing up in Wisconsin. They are Indigenous, and Makwa is dealing with an abusive father and bullying at school. He is quiet and troubled and likes a girl at school, but another boy, James (Colton Knaus), is the object of her affection. One afternoon, fuelled by frustration, fear and jealousy, Makwa shoots James in the woods, scaring Teddo into hiding James’ body and the murder.
Thirty-five years later, Makwa (Michael Greyeyes) is now a successful businessman who goes by Michael Peterson, with a wife, Greta (Kate Bosworth), a son and another baby on the way. He still harbours pent-up anger yet is a model citizen on the outside. Teddo (Chaske Spencer) has done time and returns to their reservation in Wisconsin upon release from prison. He’s haunted by James’ murder and bent on making Makwa pay for the emotional trauma. The two men will find no solace when they meet, and the fatal outcome brings up the murdered boy’s case and might push Makwa to the point of no return.
Wild Indian is a tense drama about generational trauma and abuse. Written and directed by Indigenous filmmaker Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr., he uses the biblical story of Cain and Abel as a base to tell the story of two men trying to find their way in a world of respectability changed forever by secrets and betrayal. Greyeyes, from the Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, is brilliant as a man who carries a deep self-loathing draped with psychological damage. Fraught with emotion, this drama will haunt you long after it’s over.