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This is a re-post of our Wildlife review from the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The film is now playing in limited release.
Wildlife is a film about faces. The face of a young boy, confused and inquisitive, attempting to untangle the mystery behind his parents’ quiet conversations. The face of a mother, resilient yet fragile, attempting to put on a façade of optimism when surrounded by impending destruction. The face of a father, embarrassed and defeated, trying to maintain a shred of dignity as he loses his job. That Paul Dano chose the Richard Ford novel Wildlife as his directorial debut was a feat of ambition, but in practice—working from a meticulous and introspective script he co-wrote with Zoe Kazan—the film is a more than promising debut, chronicling a crumbling family life in 1960 Montana with restraint, intimacy, and great care for some terrific performances.
Wildlife - Point - View - Boy - Joe
Wildlife is told from the point of view of a 14-year-old boy named Joe (Ed Oxenbould). Quiet but smart, Joe seemingly lives an idyllic life with his loving parents Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Jeanette (Carey Mulligan). But when his dad gets fired from his job at the golf club and spirals into a pit of alcoholism and depression (which he dutifully attempts to hide), a strain is put on the relationship with Joe’s strong, intelligent, and resilient mother that perhaps was always bubbling under the surface. Things go further south when Jerry decides his best option is to go off and join the other men who can’t find work and fight forest fires, a dangerous occupation that pays very little. This leaves Joe and Jeanette to fend for themselves, and while Jeanette finds a job at the local YMCA teaching swimming, she begins to question her entire place in life while also attempting to put on a...
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