In many ways, Wakefield feels like it is a modern day version of Rear Window but without all the thrills that came with the Alfred Hitchcock classic in this character study that stars Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston.
Written and directed by Robin Swicord, the film was based on the short story of the same name by E.L. Doctorow. Bryan Cranston leads a cast that includes Jennifer Garner, Jason O’Mara, Beverly D’Angelo, Ian Anthony Dale, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Isaac Leyva, Victoria Bruno, Ellery Sprayberry, and Tracey Walter.
Cranston is essential to making this movie work. Without him, it simply wouldn’t work and I can’t imagine anyone but him in the role of Howard Wakefield. He’s the one who is looking through the windows in the garage and keeping a watch on his wife and two daughters. Through her direction, Swicord does a great job of getting the best out of Cranston’s performance in the movie–better known for her writing than directing, she doesn’t mess around here.
Still, I don’t know what leads a man to just up-and-leave his family to live in the garage…and most of all, live like someone who is homeless. They have the bathroom in the house or food in the fridge yet Howard opts instead to swim in the pond and dive through dumpsters and garbage cans for food. It’s only on the first day of being MIA that Wakefield decides to use the house. After that, it’s all living as if he’s homeless.
It’s not until the final act in which Howard decides to return and that’s only when he starts feeling the pressure from his wife’s ex-boyfriend being back in the picture. Wouldn’t you return to your family at this point, too?
Playing the role of Howard’s wife, Diana, is actress Jennifer Garner. Her character rarely speaks in the film and she also walks around naked in front of their window but that’s beside the point. We see her character through the eyes of Howard.
“Getting to play a character who’s living a full and complete life inside the house, who the audience gets to see, yes, but only through a window, and they never hear her voice – that’s exactly what I love about this part,” Garner says of her role.
Premiering in 2016 at the 43rd Annual Telluride Film Festival and later playing at the Toronto International Film Festival, IFC opened the film on May 19, 2017, in limited theaters while also releasing through Video-On-Demand platforms ion May 26, 2017, ncluding DirecTV Cinema, Optimum, and Time Warner Cable/Spectrum on Demand. Chicago viewers can catch it at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema.