OUT 9 NOVEMBER
As an actor, Paul Dano majors in conveying the fraught feelings beneath precision-controlled fronts. A similar grasp of contained emotion is suggested by his directing debut, crisply adapted from Richard Ford’s novel of marital meltdown in ’60s Montana.
The story unfolds via photographer’s apprentice Joe Brinson (Ed Oxenbould), a teenager who watches reservedly as parents Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) splinter over dad’s job crises. As Jerry sinks into gloom, Jeanette teaches swimming; when Jerry leaves home to fight fires, Jeanette’s simmering frustrations ignite into an affair. Pleasingly, Gyllenhaal never showboats, letting his slumped shoulders tell Jerry’s tale; likewise Mulligan’s body language communicates depths about a woman’s eagerness to burst.
Rather than forcing his emotional hand, Dano’s lingering camera teases at the truths behind seemingly blank surfaces; the excellent Oxenbould’s undemonstrative expression, the Gregory Crewdson-ish suburban exteriors. True, Dano takes few risks, beyond a faintly over-heated fire metaphor. But his handling of cast, character and composition shows a natural director’s intuition, right down to the marriage of surface reserve and under-the-skin emotion in the impeccably focused final shot. Kevin Harley
Dano’s slow-burn character piece suggests he could be fanning the directing flames for the long haul.
the discovery of the “mixed colours” washing incident didn’t help his mood… CertifiCate 12A DireCtor Paul Dano Starring Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ed Oxenbould SCreenplay Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan DiStributor Kaleidoscope Entertainment running time 105 mins