Wild Men

Masculinity In Crisis: The Road Trip.

Martin is having a mid-life crisis. He’s a big lad that works in IT, wife, two kids, a bunny. Then he snaps and runs away to the mountains dressed as a Viking to live off the land. Which might be great if he actually knew what he was doing, but he’s down within a fortnight to try and get fags at the local Shell station. He ends up nicking a bunch of crisps and legging it back into the forest.

There he meets Musa, an injured traveller. Martin takes him for a novice hiker, patches him up and promises to help him to safety. Unfortunately Musa is not a lost hiker, he’s been ferrying hash back and forth between Norway and Denmark, something which sadly still counts as a serious crime. He and his mates got into a car crash, and thinking they were both dead, scarpered with the cash.

Up in the mountains, Martin and Musa cooperate and become unlikely friends. They gaze out over the breathtakingly beautiful landscape, and talk about their dissatisfaction with their lives. Musa has a son he’s not allowed to see coz, you know, he’s an international drug smuggler. Martin basically has the perfect life, and he finds it suffocating. He’s effectively run away like a little boy to play at being a Viking instead.

The awe-inspiring landscape seems to dwarf their petty life problems. At the same time, being genuinely hungry and cold and on their own, reduces life down to a series of immediate and basic problems. Existential crisis takes a backseat to getting food and finding shelter.

But more problems are on their way. Musa’s pals did not die in the crash, and are now very pissed at being left for dead while he legged it with the cash. The polis are onto them, primarily for the drug smuggling, but Martin’s also shiting it about his Shell station robbery, eg the crisps. And Martin’s wife is determined to find him and figure out if he’s genuinely lost the plot.

Wild Men is a comedy crime caper, but it speaks to a very recognisable searching for authentic masculinity. While labour becomes increasingly sedentary and technocentric, in a world where we are so alienated from nature that we are literally destroying the environmental systems which make human life possible, in a time where both our economic system and our ecological way of life has no future, nothing could be more understandable than an IT analyst running off to be a Viking in the woods. It’s selfish, it’s childish, it’s a fantasy, and it is very, very tempting.

Thoroughly enjoyed it.