Posted Jun 07 2017

Wilson - This Filter-Free Movie Rocks

Dir: Craig Johnson

Starring Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Isabella Amara, Judy Greer, Margot Martindale, Mary Lynn Rujskub, David Warshofsky

It’s fair to say Woody Harrelson is on something of a roll these days. Scene stealing work recently in the Hunger Games movies and The Edge of Seventeen, with more of the same seemingly on the horizon with the upcoming Apes and Han Solo solo movie. With Wilson, an adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ ornery graphic novel, Harrelson has found the role of a lifetime. And, yes, he knows it.

Not so much a misanthrope as a man with absolutely no filter whatsoever, Wilson is a middle aged guy disappointed with life, but still determined to try and make contact with all those around him. Yes, he’s that person who talks to you on the bus when you don’t want to speak; worse, he’s the guy who stands next to you at the urinal, determined to strike up a conversation. And then tell you you have a “nice cock.” He’s a difficult guy but a delightful comic creation.

Johnson’s film (like Clowes’ book) is very much a stroll through Wilson’s life, a series of vignettes almost, linked by Wilson’s meeting up with his ex-wife (Dern) and discovering that she never had that abortion she told him about and that their daughter was adopted. Needless, to say original mom and dad set out to find said child, with variable results.

Johnson takes this meandering material and bases it all around a powerhouse of a performance from Harrelson, irascible, hilarious and at times sorely troubled and gently moving. A funny man, a sad man, a lost man, a lonely man – Harrelson imbues his comic book character with sincere depth, delivering some of the finest work of his career. He is well matched by Dern, who is also at the top of her game here.

Also, (thankfully) the characters Wilson meets along the way – from Martindale’s potential pick-up, to Greer’s dog-sitter, to crazy old friend Olsen (a hilarious Warshofsky) are equally rounded, providing us with perfect snapshots of other lives, just passing through.

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