Back from war in Afghanistan Harry Turner, a young British soldier struggling with depression and PTSD, finds a second chance in the Amazon rainforest when he meets Samantha Zwicker, an American scientist and conservationist, and together they foster an orphaned baby ocelot.
What I really liked about Wildcat is that while the starting point is Harry’s relationship with the baby ocelot and how he learns to be a mother figure to it and teach it all it needs to know to survive in the wild, it branches out to being about Harry’s mental health and how putting all his love, focus and attention into this ocelot could be detrimental to him and the people around him.
Wildcat went into Harry’s mental health issues more than I was expecting and while it was a very open portrayal of his struggles, it also showed how loving someone who has such dark thoughts and can hurt themselves, is a struggle for the people around them too. The ocelot is like a lifeline to Harry and though he still cares about Samantha and his family, it’s like he is pinning all his happiness on the ocelot’s survival and success, which is not healthy for either of them.
The conversation work Samantha and her team do is invaluable, and Wildcat does a good job of going into the dangers the animals in the rainforest face. Plus it’s nice to see that she’s understanding of some of the locals actions as often the only way they can really earn money is through logging and mining – both of which is detrimental to the wildlife. It never comes across that Samantha knows best because she’s American compared to her Peruvian co-workers and locals who she often helps out and learns from. It’s clear that the logging and mining is part of a wider problem that people with more power and influence need to solve, not the people who are just trying to earn enough money for their families.
Wildcat shows the incredible bond humans can have with wild animals and Harry’s relationship with the ocelot is very sweet and it’s always lovely to see footage of cute animals that we don’t typically see. Wildcat is a really thoughtful and impactful documentary and one that’s incredibly honest. It’s both sad and hopeful and it truly gives you an unfiltered look into the life of someone struggling with depression and shows how there’s good days and bad days. 4/5.