The Wanting Mare, in many ways, is a film unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. If you go in expecting a traditional film with a conventional narrative and characters you will be sorely disappointed. If that’s what you’re expecting, then the film will be long, slow and tedious, with little to excite you, so it’s worth knowing a little bit about what you’re getting into with The Wanting Mare.
Set in the world of Anmaere, in the city of Withren, the city’s most valuable export, wild horses, are hunted, trapped and sold to be shipped across the sea once a year. For everyone living in Withrin, this creates the possibility of escape with everyone desperate to get themselves a ticket out to a better place. The film also features a line of women passing a single dream through generations as they inherit a memory of time where magic and mother were alive in the world and this memory passes from mother to daughter.
Written and directed by Nicholas Ashe Bateman, a visual effects artist known for his work on The Green Knight, his directorial debut The Wanting Mare doesn’t feel like a film at all. It’s incredibly bold and ambitious in its filmmaking and storytelling with it feeling almost like a dream with the viewer being swept away on this journey. It doesn’t feel like we’re watching a film like we would normally, it feels more akin to staring at a piece of art in a gallery with it taking you on a journey through its gorgeous visuals and the way in which it presents itself.
There’s a lot of promise in Bateman’s first film although it does still fail on some accounts due to the unique narrative and method of storytelling. It can be difficult to follow what’s going on at times as it becomes rather unfocussed. You can just sit back and let the film wash over you in its awe but if you want to understand everything that’s going on it can be a little tricky at times. As the film runs on the pieces do start to connect together but when the narrative is jumping across time and between people it’s not always entirely clear what connects to what and how it’s all connected.
That being said, it’s very difficult not to admire the huge level of ambition and artistry that’s on display here from Bateman. Despite the low budget, it appears on the screen in a way that’s ethereal and exquisite. Each frame feels unique with the film creating this incredible world that it throws us right into. Whilst not everything works and at times it’s rather messy, it’s hard not to respect and appreciate the immense level of passion and imagination that’s gone into making this film.
The Wanting Mare shows lots of promise and ambitions as it presents itself in a way that’s incredibly rich both visually and thematically however it still leaves out just a bit too much for it to truly succeed.
The Wanting Mare is available to rent or own on digital HD from Bulldog Film Distribution on 7 February 2022
DIRECTOR: Nicholas Ashe Bateman
STARS: Jordan Monaghan, Josh Clark, Edmond Cofie
RUNTIME: 89 minutes