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  • Entertainment

MOVIE: Wildlife: It’s a tame story but the acting is savage

Wednesday, 7th November, 2018 7:00pm
MOVIE: Wildlife: It’s a tame  story but the  acting is savage

7 New Film Wildlife.jpg

MOVIE: Wildlife: It’s a tame  story but the  acting is savage

7 New Film Wildlife.jpg

Paul O’Rourke  

PAUL Dano is known for playing odd characters. The demonic priest in ‘There Will be Blood’, the creepy neighbour in ‘Prisoners”’, and the silent sibling in ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. 

You might therefore, expect his directorial debut to be equally odd, but it’s not, and perhaps that’s because he spends the entire time behind the camera, rather than in front of it. 

‘Wildlife’ is adapted from the Richard Ford novel of the same name and tells the story of a crumbling young family in 1960s America, from the point of view of only son, Joe, (played by Ed Oxenbould). 

When father Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses his job at the local golf club, mother Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) seizes the opportunity to step out of her societally imposed role as housewife, and 
dives at the chance to work as a swimming instructor.

Jerry, with his pride bruised, spirals into depression and eventually opts for a low paying and dangerous position putting out forest fires. 

This takes him away from his family and causes further conflict at home, with Jeanette forced to explore other options to support herself and young Joe, including developing a relationship with a rich older man. 

We view each development in the story through the eyes of Joe, who has to deal with his father leaving, his mother cope with the fallout, and his parents’ relationship slowly fall apart. 

This is very much a character observation piece and a well observed one at that, but the story may move at too slow a pace for some. 

Dano not only tackled the direction but also the screenplay with actress wife Zoe Kazan (‘The Big Sick’) and that may have been too much to handle for a first timer. 

But while the script is not without its problems, this movie is more about the performances than the story. 

Mulligan’s turn is simply magnificent, and she may well be in line for upcoming nominations and awards. 

Gyllenhaal is impressive as always and young Oxenbould has undoubted screen presence. 

For those reasons alone we award Wildlife a review score of 3.5 solid stars. Other releases: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: 2.5 stars. 

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