Posted Nov 07 2018
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Wildlife - This Movie Very Quietly Rocks

Dir: Paul Dano

Starring Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp

Paul Dano makes his directorial debut in a very quiet and subdued manner here, adapting Richard Ford’s novel (alongside Zoe Kazan) and eliciting some beautifully restrained performances from his three leads.

Oxenbould, sparse on dialogue but strong on observation, excels as the recently uprooted to Montana teenager, an almost silent witness to the disintegration of his parents marriage in a small town in the late 1950s/early '60s. Gyllenhaal does a splendid job as the husband/father, who may have too much of a fondness for alcohol, but is painfully aware of the way his life is slowly drifting away from him. The stillness of Gyllenhaal’s performance and the sense of impending loss he presents marks this out as some of his finest work.

But it is Mulligan who dominates here, as the repressed housewife/mother, who initially suspects her husband of having an affair before embarking on a doomed and damaged one of her own, all but offering her son up as collateral damage in her desperate need to find some form of life for herself.

Fires are raging in the hills on the outskirts of town throughout Dano’s debut, always threatening to engulf those that live within. But they never erupt. The fires burning here are much more controlled – the highest emotions rise is Gyllenhaal’s brilliant outburst of “Boy! Boy! Boy!” when things get really tough.

Dano very deliberately mines his pace and keep his visuals equally stately and in time with that. It borders on being almost too earnest at times, but its cumulative effect is actually quietly devastating.

 

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