Review: Wildlife

In Montana....who knew?

Fourteen year old Joe (Ed Oxenbould) is put in a tight spot when his father, Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses his job, then goes out to fight wildfires in rural  Montana against the wishes of his mother, Jeannette. (Carey Mulligan)

I have been waiting for this film since it premiered at Sundance. It's directed by one of my favorite actors, Paul Dano, and it's his first time behind the camera. And I'm always down for Mulligan and Gyllenhaal. To say I had high expectations for this would be and understatement. 

And I'm happy to say all those expectations were fulfilled. This isn't the most exciting film out there, and because of that I know it won't be for everyone, but I can't find a thing wrong with it for what it is. 

Oxenbould is definitely one to watch. I wish the Oscars didn't hate men under the age of 20 in the Lead Actor so much because if there's any justice, he'd be there. Unlike a lot of films told from a teen boy's perspective, he never has that moment where he completely loses it and lashes out. Instead he quietly wears the weight of his mother's decisions all over his face. It affects everything he does. 

Dano shoots this 1960's setting wonderfully. He doesn't attempt to copy someone else's style, or go for those over saturated "art house" shots that are oh so tempting. He just lets his camera be, and he catches his actor's expressions in a way that's very intimate. 

And this brings me to Carey Mulligan, who is the undisputed star of this film, and I wanted to discuss her character as part of Dell's awesome Girl Week. Mulligan gives the best performance I've seen all year from any actress. But her character is not "traditionally likable". She was called out during a Q&A earlier this year where a (male) critic said he had a hard time with her character because of how she behaves. Mulligan of course had a beautifully eloquent remark about people not being used to seeing this messy side, and I can't agree with her more.

What Jeannette does in this film is very irresponsible, but I never hated her for it. I judged the hell out of her parenting for sure, as a mother of a young boy myself, how could I not? But I loved how unapologetic the film was about. Jeannette got dealt a shitty hand. By her own admission, she has no friends, she isn't doing the job she loves, and now her husband went off to possibly die for $1.00 an hour. She's essentially going through a mid life crisis a few decades early. She dresses how she did when she was young, she slacks off on her homemaking duties. Maybe she never loved doing that to begin with, but I found her depression very believable. Like her son, she holds a lot of it in. There's no huge breakdown moment. She's almost professional in her anger and that's something I feel like we don't see often enough.

As it stands now, Carey Mulligan should be winning that Best Actress Oscar.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote: "He fought in two wars and never learned to swim...imagine that." - Jeannette (Carey Mulligan)

Comments

  1. I'm even more excited about it now but I don't know when I'll get to see it as it still doesn't have a release date here :(

    Anyways, great review! And I agree with you, the Academy should give more credit to young actors in leading roles.

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  2. i loved that she was allowed to be messy. usually, it's the man who's messy (though Gyllenhaal's character actually is as well)

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    1. Same! Gyllenhaal's is but he's off screen enough to where we don't notice it as much.

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  3. Mulligan should have thrown a shoe at that critic, Jesus. I will definitely see it when I have a chance!

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    1. She was really nice about it, dude was lucky. I Hope you like it when you see it!

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  4. I really, really, really want to see this as I heard good things about it and your endorsement makes me want to see this even more. I just hope it's playing at my local multiplex in the coming weeks.

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    1. I hope yours gets it. If my city got it that has to bode well for everyone else we're quite small lol

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  5. Mulligan has been killing it for a long time now. I'm looking forward to seeing this. Thanks for blessing me with another entry! And that critic is a dick.

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    1. Agreed. I'd never have the balls to say that to someone like...why?

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  6. This will probably never show in my home country, but I can't wait to see it. I'm also a Paul Dano and Carey Mulligan fan, I think both of them are extremely talented. It would be great for Carey to get an Oscar, but I doubt it, especially when there will always be other actresses more daring and outspoken and publicity-oriented. She doesn't seem to be that way.

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    1. I think a lot of it falls on IFC, they should be promoting it harder. I feel like Zoe Kazan is doing all of that for them. They need more. I hope you get the chance to see it soon!

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  7. I don’t know this film but I love your review and I have now marked it down to see. I. Glad they show a mom who is not the typical mom/wife. What do you think of the new Oscar entry? I think it’s a dumb idea

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    1. They scrapped it for now thank God. So stupid lol.

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  8. Oh, Mulligan is one of my favourites. I thought she elevated Far From The Madding Crowd significantly; and my fave performance of hers is The Great Gatsby (other than BLINK). I'll have to check this out!

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    1. She was really good in Madding crowd even though I didn't like that movie at all. She's great in everything.

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  9. Other than the title and the lead performers I didn't really know too much about this but figured because of them I would see it eventually. With a bit more knowledge of it I'm looking forward to it more but will brace myself for a somber viewing experience.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it when you get the chance to watch. Let me know what you think!

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  10. Loved this movie, love this review. I agree that Mulligan may give the performance of the year here. What an impossible character to describe. Her work was so layered and complex. I absolutely loved it. I just wish more people had the chance to see this movie.

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    1. I do too. My theater only held on to it for about two weeks. I hate that she isn't getting nominated for anything.

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