Review: Wildlife

Title: Wildlife
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Paul Dano
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins

What It Is: In actor Paul Dano’s directorial debut. Joe Brinson (Oxenbould) is a young man just trying to fit in in his new Montana setting. Meanwhile, his father Jerry (Gyllenhaal) has lost his job at a golf course and is now out fighting the wildfires to make ends meet. His mother Jeanette (Mulligan) has gotten a job herself. It is this point that put into motion all of the other consequences that change this family forever.

What We Think: A simply stunning debut by Dano. His decisions here were all ones you’d expect of a director much his experience. Carrie Mulligan is an actress who always brings it. Whether it’s more popular fare (which she does so infrequently) or in small films like this or Far From the Madding CrowdGyllenhaal does some great work. This is Oxenbould’s film though. The way Dano uses him as a device to move the narrative is fantastic. Narratively the whole thing just moves a bit too fast for my liking but that’s a nitpick. One has to look long and hard to find fault in this one.

Our Grade: A, For a film that clocks in at only 105 mins the first half of this film seems to fly by. This film is a wonderful story that’s well told. All of the performances are top notch and Dano is certainly a new voice behind the lens that I’ll be paying attention to. Dano and Zoe Kazan paint and real, raw portrait of a life lived and a moment in time. A film I highly recommend and one I think any audience is sure to enjoy…if they can get their hands on it that is. Which may prove a little difficult.

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