Haunt­ing story about flawed par­ents

Gulf Times Community - - REVIEWS - Newsday/TNS

Aboy’s world falls to pieces in Wildlife,

Paul Dano’s bru­tal and beau­ti­ful adap­ta­tion of Richard Ford’s 1990 novel. Dano, the dis­tinc­tively wan-look­ing ac­tor who played the im­plo­sive teenager, Dwayne, in Lit­tle Miss Sun­shine, makes his di­rec­to­rial de­but here, and it’s a ter­rific piece of work in nearly ev­ery way. Most no­tably, Wildlife marks the best per­for­mance from Carey Mul­li­gan since her break­out turn in

An Ed­u­ca­tion nearly 10 years ago. Wildlife is set in Great Falls, Mon­tana — a favourite Ford lo­ca­tion — dur­ing what the novel pegs as the fall of 1960. Its fo­cus is on the Brin­son fam­ily, who moved here with mid­dle-class as­pi­ra­tions: Jerry (Jake Gyl­len­haal) is a golf pro at a lo­cal club, Jeanette (Mul­li­gan) stays at home and their son, Joe (Ed Ox­en­bould), plays high-school foot­ball. This Rock­well-es­que pic­ture changes when Jerry loses his job. Over Jeanette’s ob­jec­tions, he joins a vol­un­teer fire­fight­ing crew that will take him to a blaze miles away for sev­eral weeks.

Within days, Jeanette re­verts to some­thing Joe never knew she had been: A fast-mov­ing flirt who loves pretty dresses and male at­ten­tion. She finds the lat­ter in War­ren Miller (Bill Camp), a wealthy car dealer, who be­gins com­ing around at hours he shouldn’t. Be­fore long, Joe seems to be liv­ing with a re­bel­lious, delin­quent teenager — and he’s ille­quipped to rein her in.

Mul­li­gan is ex­traor­di­nary as Jeanette. She can de­liver a sin­gle line with so many emo­tions — gid­di­ness, des­per­a­tion, re­gret, rage — that each one feels like a lit­tle play. Dano helps by draw­ing our eyes to de­tails: Jeanette’s lip­stick ap­pears one day, an­nounces a whole new per­son­al­ity and then, just as sud­denly, it’s gone.

Wildlife feels like a com­pan­ion piece to In­dig­na­tion (2016), James Schamus’ adap­ta­tion of a Philip Roth novel. The films have more in com­mon than an in­scrutable ti­tle: Both are from first-time di­rec­tors; both are based on lesser­known works by great Amer­i­can au­thors; and both tell sto­ries about mid­cen­tury teenage boys whose eyes are opened to ug­li­ness. There are mo­ments when

Wildlife paints Joe too clearly as the pic­ture of in­no­cence lost, but Ox­en­bould makes the char­ac­ter work. A young ac­tor with a slight lisp and all-see­ing eyes, Ox­en­bould is the se­cret star of this film. “What’s go­ing to hap­pen to us?” Joe de­mands of his dis­ap­point­ing par­ents. It’s a ques­tion they can’t seem to an­swer. —

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Qatar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.