With co-writer Zoe Kazan, acclaimed actor Paul Dano makes a whopping directorial debut with this gorgeous adaptation of a Richard Ford novel, set in midcentury Montana, about a teenaged boy coming of age amid the dissolution of his parents’ marriage.
An uncontrolled forest fire is raging close to the home of golf pro Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal), housewife Jeanette (Carey Mulligan), and their only child, 14-year-old Joe. So when Jerry loses his job—and his sense of purpose—he decides to go help fight the conflagration, leaving his family to fend for themselves.
And fend they do, for better or worse. Mulligan delivers one of her finest performances to date as a complex woman whose growing self-determination not only runs counter to the gendered expectations of the era but complicates Joe’s new role as the man of the house—which, after all, has been thrust upon him well before his time. There’s plenty of blame, and plenty of sympathy, to go around—but Dano leaves the audience to cast it as he, in the words of Indiewire (one of numerous publications to issue glowing reviews after Wildlife’s Sundance debut), “crafts an unsparing portrait that’s harsh and humane in equal measure.”
CCAP (English dialogue with captions for devices)
Producer: Paul Dano, | Editor: Louise Ford, Matthew Hannam | Cinematographer: Diego Garc¡a | Screenwriter: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Andrew Duncan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riva Marker, Oren Moverman
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp, Zoe Margaret Colletti