A 2021 Film Journey: Day 131

I am sorry I went AWOL for the last week plus. On Sunday the second, I got my first COVID shot and proceeded to get almost immediately extremely sick. My need to do nothing but sleep led me to missing a few posts and from there the anxiety and depression really took hold. Each day missed begat the next day missed until more than a week went by without a single post from me. I have felt awful about myself because of the misses, but as I felt worse it became harder to motivate myself to watch anything and thus it became a spiral down. Thankfully, tonight I managed to take a seat on my couch, let a cat jump on my lap, and watch a movie. Thank you for putting up with a longer blog section and a shorter movie review as I get back in the swing of things.

Wildlife (2018, Dir. Paul Dano)

Wildlife movie review & film summary (2018) | Roger Ebert

To this day the only film directed by Paul Dano is a complicated depiction of a volatile family set in 1960. Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) has been uplifting his family in search of an easy answer, and after he refuses to take his job back following a wrongful termination, he instead leaves the family to fight wildfires until the first snow. This abandonment is one too many transgressions for his wife Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) to take. The bulk of the film follows Joe (Ed Oxenbould) as he watches his mother attempt to process her remaining feelings for her husband and the selfish actions that he takes.

For being a freshman director, Paul Dano displays a precise handling of tone in his period drama. Shot primarily from Joe’s point of view, Dano taps into the emotions of an overwhelmed 14-year-old watching both parents individually tear apart their marriage. While some of the personal complexities may be over Joe’s head, Dano captures these intricacies without betraying Joe’s point of view. As a whole the film is superb, but if there is any flaw, it would be that Gyllenhaal is not especially convincing at playing someone from 1960. This deficiency is further exacerbated by casting him aside Mulligan who was born to play roles from the mid-20th century. It is not enough to ruin the film by any extent, but it did stand out.

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