Carey Mulligan however, is the absolute stand-out, portraying the transformation of Jeanette as relatable, yet despicable, becoming a character with increasingly deep set emotions running through her every line

Wildlife is a perfectly painted canvas, showing just how clearly Paul Dano understands his own art style. Known solely for his acting, Wildlife is Dano’s first foray into directing, taking his well studied influences, and transferring them into his own handcrafted feature film. Aided by a supreme lead in Carey Mulligan, a subtle Jake Gyllenhall and brilliant newcomer Ed Oxenbould, Wildlife is an incredible character piece, with so much to say.

Based on the novel by Richard Ford of the same name, Wildlife depicts the falling apart of the marriage of Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhall) from the eyes of their 14 year old son Joe (Ed Oxenbould). Jerry loses his job immorally, pushing him to choose a radical new career in helping to put out a wildfire threatening the county. Though whilst Jerry is away, Jeanette becomes disillusioned with her marriage, falling for a new man, right under the nose of her teenage son.

Wildlife 2

Features known as a ‘character piece’, are always incredibly reliant on the actors chosen for each individual role; Specifically those that use a small number of core parts to hold together the whole piece, almost as a theatre production would. Wildlife’s use of (essentially) only four characters places a huge amount of pressure on their shoulders, but the way each of them manage to grasp their personality and project it into the story is simply terrific.

Carey Mulligan however, is the absolute stand-out, portraying the transformation of Jeanette as relatable, yet despicable, becoming a character with increasingly deep set emotions running through her every line. The descent of the marriage emanates from Mulligan’s face so drastically it genuinely becomes heartbreaking for young Joe, and to watch as an onlooker.

Dano’s partner and co-scriptwriter Zoe Kazan suggested in an interview that for any film Dano appears in, he is desperate to tell her how he would change the film were it his own; Obsessing over how he would alter it for his own vision. Wildlife has become that chance, showcasing incredible skill for a first time director, and a huge understanding of how to express a story to match its themes, characters and emotions. Wildlife is a wonderful piece passing across its profound messages, whilst still offering so much to love.

5/5

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