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Review: Wish Hill


Two brothers conflicted with life's chaos set out on a secret adventure to a place where it is believed wishes come true.


There is a transcendent comfort that writer/director Aleah Marrow visually articulates, as she couches the premise of two brothers searching for peace, clarity and hope amid the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous and harrowing periods of our recent history.

Marrow’s tale of two brothers, Kaden (Kaelib Hayes) and his younger brother Damon (Dylan Smith) set out on a mission to find a hill where the top meets the sunset, and their greatest wishes will be granted. This fantastical journey is triggered by the very real and violent threats of the wider world into which their mother has been thrown. The brothers and their older sister Layla (played by the film’s director) figure out how to look after one another while their mother works on the front lines of the pandemic, taking care of those most badly afflicted.

The primary theme of protecting innocence is weaved into the dreamlike visual aesthetic of the film. In taking the isolation enforced on most of the world and repurposing it into a seemingly secret world known only to Kaden and Caleb, the film, through these isolated and scared brothers is able to turn a defence mechanism into a vessel of serenity and hope. This is achieved in no small part to the creative team working with Marrow. Director of Photography Alexander Rivera shoots this film exquisitely, using natural light to create stunning visuals from the simplest of moments. Additionally, Rivera’s eye works in perfect tandem with editor Jacob McCall, who finds just the right beats to piece together Kaden and Damon’s adventure. This is all held together by a wonderful selection of string-centric music and an inch perfect voice over delivery by Josiah Jennings (narrating as Kaden).

All of this works in service to the musings of the film’s writer and director Aleah Marrow, who finds a way of not just presenting thoughts on life and death as those of a pre-teen boy, but distilling them into a coherent journey of a young mind making sense of a world out of control. Kaelib Hayes and Dylan Smith exude brotherly energy as Kaden and Damon respectively. Under Marrow’s direction, both boys display a bond through their performances using great bursts of energy as well as quiet moments of contemplation. Their physicality is central to the expression of who they are and how they seek to protect each other from the uncertainty that has befallen the world. They are able to express the whole spectrum of their emotional journey from the kind of excitement only children can embody to the kind of vulnerability that only children have the courage to show.

Having the insight to deliver moments and performances of childlike simplicity to address issues of emotional complexity is at the heart of what makes Wish Hill so affecting. Marrow knows not to simplify and talk down to the audience or over intellectualise the character experiences. The journey to a place where problems can be wished away at a time all of us felt vulnerable is as relatable as it gets. Using that journey to examine the essence of the lives we largely allowed to pass us by before we were uniformly forced to stop is exactly what makes this film so special.

Studio: Slick Films | Year: 2022 | Genre: Drama | Duration: 8 Mins | Suitability: General


Kaelib Hayes, Dylan Smith, Aleah Marrow


Director: Aleah Marrow | Producer: Aleah Marrow | Writer: Aleah Marrow

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