November 02, 2018

Wildlife is in select theaters on November 2nd, 2018.

The movie is about 14-year-old, Joe (Ed Oxenbould) who is the only child of Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) a housewife and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal), a golf pro in a small town in 1960s Montana. Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and when Jerry loses his job and his sense of purpose, he decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves.

What follows is a beautifully acted drama of a family dissolving before our eyes. Told mostly from the point of view of the Joe, coping with his parent's marital breakup and his own ongoing adolescence. Jeannette, who above all else, is doing everything she can to survive, yet we’re watching her self-destruct at the same time by putting herself in a downward spiral into infidelity, depression. When his father returns the story really gets out of control.

The acting, setting, and cinematography were all well done. I'd wanted to give this a higher rating, but there was a certain coldness present in the film's tone and script that keeps you at a distance and prevented me from really connecting with the characters.

Carey Mulligan is absolutely the best part of the film. This is easily her strongest role and performance since An Education. It's so nuanced and detailed. Her character is changing, and really breaking, here, but just barely. Not even to the point that she notices, at least until it's all gone too far. Gyllenhaal having a small role really gives Mulligan the ability to shine in all of her scenes and Oxenbould holds his own as Joe.

Wildlife is a very solid film, and an impressive directorial debut from Paul Dano. He makes up for the flatness of its story with exceptional performances. In most moments where the story took questionable turns, the emotional truth still felt right. That’s enough for me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

WillWill (Contributor) has called many places home but now resides in Michigan. An Air Force veteran and avid movie goer who enjoys indie movies just as much as major blockbusters. He is also a technology enthusiast.
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