Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
Wildlife is set in 1960s Montana and follows a family, through the eyes of the son, 14-year-old Joe (Ed Oxenbould). His father, Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) has recently been fired from his job and decides to leave his family to fight a forest fire near the Canadian border. This leaves his mother, Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) to take care of their home which sends her into an adventure of her own.
Paul Dano’s directorial debut is hauntingly beautiful. Dano and Zoe Kazan co-write a captivating and heartbreaking depiction of a family slowly falling apart. Yet, it’s Dano’s strong ability to use the camera as a lens to help us see through Joe’s eyes, projecting his pain onto the audience. Dano also uses little camera movement, which lets his remarkable Cast shine.
Oxenbould’s phenomenal performance is at the level of a seasoned veteran, bringing to life a young, confused and shattered Joe. The incomparable Gyllenhaal expresses all facets of the male ego without saying many words. His depiction of Jerry is the stuff of wonder. Mulligan is exquisite, delivering a fiery and fearless performance as the scared and heartbroken Jeanette. All of Jeanette’s flaws are on full display and Mulligan relishes in her imperfection. She is hypnotic and gives one of the best performances to date.
Wildlife screens at Sundance on Jan. 20 at 3:30PM at Eccles PC, Jan. 21 at 6:30PM at Redstone 1 PC, Jan. 22 at 9:30PM at Rose Wagner SLC, Jan. 26 at 5:30PM at Prospector PC, and Jan. 27 at 8:30AM at Prospector PC.
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