Wildlife: A Career-Best for Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan as Jeanette Brinson in Paul Dano’s WILDLIFE. Photography by Scott Garfield. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

With first-time director Paul Dano at the helm, Wildlife benefits from a stand-out performance from actress Carey Mulligan.

Based on Richard Ford’s book of the same name, we view the events through the eyes of teenager Joe Brinson (Ed Oxenbould) in Great Falls, Montana.  As his parents struggle financially, Joe decides to quit the football team to work for a photographer. Meanwhile, Joe’s dad, Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal), decides to run out of town to fight fires some 40 miles away.  He felt forced into making this decision because he lost his job at the golf club.  Fighting fires may pay $1 an hour but it’s better than wasting away on the couch.  This sudden decision isn’t sitting well with Jeanette (Carey Mulligan).   It’s not fair to Joe either but nobody was really hiring in their small Montana town.

One can view Jeanette’s reaction as acting out.  On the other hand, we can also view it as Jeanette reacting to her husband, well, leaving.  The 1960s were a very different time.  The larger cities not withstanding but surely this type of activity in small-town Montana would just reek of a scandal.  One can assume based on the culture of the time that families were expected to stay together.  With Jerry out of the fold, car dealership owner Warren Miller (Bill Camp) steps into the picture.  It goes without saying that you can probably guess what happens next.  After all, this is the 1960s and Jeanette takes control of her life.

We view the film through Joe’s eyes.  For better or worse, it’s his reaction to the events around him are what drive the picture.  While Joe’s family life may fall apart, his photography job helps keep him distracted.

While Paul Dano was no stranger to screenwriting, the actor takes a turn behind the camera for his feature directorial debut.  It’s a solid directorial debut for the actor-screenwriter, who co-wrote the film with Zoe Kazan.  Not many directors can say that they hit a home run on the first try but this is what Dano has done on the first try.

The star of the film is actress Carey Mulligan.  The British actress delivers her best performance in years since being nominated for her role in An Education.  This very phenomenal performance of a complex woman will certainly make Mulligan a contender for another Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

A stunning portrait of a family in the 1960s, Wildlife is a spectacular debut for Paul Dano behind the camera.

DIRECTOR:  Paul Dano
SCREENWRITERS:  Paul Dano & Zoe Kazan
CAST:  Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp, and Jake Gyllenhaal

Wildlife held its world premiere during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition program. IFC Films will release the film in select theaters starting on October 19, 2018.

Carey Mulligan will receive the Artistic Achievement Award when Wildlife screens as the Centerpiece presentation during the 2018 Chicago International Film Festival on October October 16, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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