This is one film I wanted to see but could not get tickets for, Wildlife, the directorial debut of Paul Dano with his real life partner Zoe Kazan.
Based on the novel by Richard Ford, this is part domestic drama, part coming-of-age. Seen, even in the film, almost entirely through the eyes of 14 year old Joe, played immaculately by Ed Oxenbough, this film shows that parents have flaws and also that parents had lives before they were parents.
Using both the dramatic Montana landscape and the claustrophobic 1960s interiors to create a world which we have long left behind, this film shows to an extended degree, the smallness of a woman’s life. Jeanette (a scintillating Carey Mulligan) has no job, she has given up a teaching position to join her husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Montana, where, at the start of the film, he has a job as a golf course groundsman/caddy.
There is a suggestion that Jeanette has given up her job to look after Joe, but I have a feeling that in the 1950s (which by deduction would have been when she married and started the family) women had to leave the teaching profession when they married. Maybe not in America?
The slow unravelling in this film is brilliantly conveyed, very few examples of this type of camera work still exist. There is no artifice – what you see is what you get.
Emotionally tense, this shows people on the edge of a nervous break-down. The ending is different from the novel, but works in the context of film, to perfection.