Thursday, November 01, 2018

Wildlife 2018

Treated myself to a movie today at the comfortable but sterile walter reade theatre in Lincoln Center. The movie was Wildlife which is getting a lot of attention and Oscar hype and it does have a trio of terrific performances that anchor the small sad story that is based on a Richard Ford novel. Set in 1960 in Montana, big sky country, it’s a basic story of a mother, father and son trying to get by on very little while holding on to their fami
ly center.
There’s not much to the thing, on the surface at least, father loses job and leaves home for a temporary gig fighting forest fires, while mom and son try to keep the home fires burning. Its not Andy Hardy though and lives change in a moment and a young boy grows up in sorrow and errors.
This is the actor Paul Dano’s first film as director and he brings a sharp eye and delicate touches to this vignette like story. The screenplay was co-written by Dano and his lady love Zoe Kazan and they provide a lean and dramatic armature to hang their movie on.
All three players as I said are terrific and I was especially moved by the young unknown actor (not for long I would imagine) Ed Oxenbould who is a dead ringer for a young Paul Dano and is so moving and real as the 14 year old son on whose shoulders all the disarray falls on, no doubt he has a great future in front of him.
Also top notch in really a supporting role is Jake Gyllenhaal as the conflicted father. Gyllenhaal has consistently chosen small biting roles that push his pretty boy looks to the side, his filmography is impressive, and finally there is the great Carey Mulligan who gives what might be the best performance by an actress this year. She is practically in every scene in this short 104 minute movie and to see her changes as the troubled mother is stunning. Metaphors and symbols cover the film with the most obvious one being the raging forest fire that changes the landscape and the lives of this damaged family. The ending will break your heart. A movie to treasure.


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