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 the cast and let me just say how essential the Breaking Bad star is to making this movie work. Without him, it simply wouldn’t work. I don’t put it lightly when I say that 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. Swicord is better known for her writing than directing but 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. More importantly, why would someone want to do such a thing and live as if they were someone who was homeless. When Howard does this, he could easily use the bathroom in the house or even eat food out of the fridge. Yet he decides to go against the privilege. Rather, he opts instead to swim in the pond and dive through dumpsters and garbage cans for food. It’s only on his very first day of being MIA that Wakefield decides to use the house. After this initial time, it’s all living as if he’s homeless.
It’s not until the final act in which Howard decides to return. This makes since 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? After all, he is the man of the house, right?!?
Playing the role of Howard’s wife, Diana, is actress Jennifer Garner. Her character rarely speaks in the film. 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. While it would have been great to see more of Garner’s work, this film is very much a Bryan Cranston vehicle.
To say that Bryan Cranston absolutely nails it in Wakefield would not be an understatement because crushes the performance.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Robin Swicord
CAST: Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Garner, Jason O’Mara, Beverly D’Angelo, Ian Anthony Dale, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Isaac Leyva, Victoria Bruno, Ellery Sprayberry, and Tracey Walter
Premiering in 2016 at the 43rd Annual Telluride Film Festival and later playing at the Toronto International Film Festival, IFC opened Wakefield on May 19, 2017, in limited theaters while also releasing through Video-On-Demand platforms on May 26, 2017.