From the moment that I saw the first trailer, I felt like I would love this film. The trailer had the song, “Hurt” by Timi Yuro running through it and it made me feel everything all at once.
I mean, you show me Jake Gyllenhaal and I will show up regardless but the thing is; I was expecting a two hour emotional experience and the movie ended up falling a bit short for me (you have no idea how much it pains me to say that). Though Carrie Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ed Oxenbould provided great performances with the material they were given, it just felt like I needed so much more.
Wildlife centers around a family on the brink of falling apart and as a person that came from a broken family, I appreciated that they presented much of the narrative from the son’s point of view. Parents revealing their humanity is a storyline that never gets old for me, maybe it’s because I can tell you the moment I realized just how human my parents were. It could also be because relatable family stories feel like the kind of broken home I can’t quite seem to want to leave.
Ed Oxenbould (Joe) perfectly navigated his storyline. He gave me the perfect amount of pain while his character developed in the best kind of way. Most of the story was told from his point of view and it felt the most genuine when we got to sit in the quiet moments with his character. I connected with his Joe, in the moments where he felt the need to bring his family back together while it was completely evident that everything was falling apart. I have tried to move mountains for my family multiple times and I have the broken pieces of my heart to show it. These moments with Ed’s character is where the film felt the most real and grounded.
Jake Gyllenhaal was everything he could be as a supporting character. Truth is, you’d be hard-pressed to hear me say something negative about a Jake Gyllenhaal performance and I’ll completely admit to my bias. Gyllenhaal has made an art out of portraying complicated characters that you can’t help but fall in love with and Jerry in Wildlife is no exception. However, I will say, though I am the President of the Give Jake Gyllenhaal An Oscar Campaign, it doesn’t feel like this is the movie that will put him in the running for one.
I’d like to make it abundantly clear that I enjoyed Wildlife, I just expected more. For example, Carrie Mulligan (Jeanette) played a frustratingly-complicated mother and she did it perfectly. Mulligan wonderfully portrayed the heartache that is felt while trying to find yourself in a world that has made you feel confined. The subtlety in her body language, the way her voice broke even when she felt her most confident and yet the character development for Jeanette fell completely short. In the beginning of the film she went from 0-60 in a matter of minutes and the lack of explanation as to why, left me wondering about the authenticity of her actions the entire time.
The first trailer of the film prepared me for a film that contained countless emotions while surrounded by a magical soundtrack and again, I was let down. Paul Dano (Director) allowed too many moments to breathe, though sometimes rightfully so, it felt like he could of added a magnificent score to this film and it could have perfectly added to the emotional narrative. The music was lacking and it felt like too many moments were left to have room for powerful songs.
I hate that I didn’t love it. I hate that I had so many gripes about this film. I hate that this “review” is full of contradictions. “I needed more emotion but Mulligan beautifully portrayed the heartache that is felt while trying to find yourself in a world that has made you feel confined.” All-in-all this film is a pleasant experience, but don’t take my word for it .. get out and watch it this weekend.
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