‘Wild Life’ is one of those movies that are a lot of things, but never feels crowded. It’s a story about a marriage and its disintegration. It’s a coming-of-age film. It’s a snapshot of life in a particular time (1960) in rural America. It’s all beautifully woven anchored by great performances, directed with grace by Paul Dano, sensitively written by hom and his girlfriend Zoe Kazan.
Jeannette and Jerry Brinson (Carey Mulligan and Jake Gylenhaal) are just like any other American family. They have a fourteen year old son Joe, (Ed Oxenbould) and he plays football. It’s your typical American family, but it’s all for show. Joe isn’t really interested in the sport, and Jerry just lost his job at the golf course because his boss thinks that he’s too friendly with the clientele. When he volunteers to help with fighting the brush fires, Jeanette goes on a transformation. Or is she just finally finding herself? This all happens before Joe’s eyes and he matures before he even realizes it. The film is at times painful to endure, but it’s real. Mulligan moves with ease in showing the change in her character, but I just have this weird thing in me that I see Katie Holms in her – or the other way around perhaps? Gylenhaal gives a solid performance as always, and there is wisdom in Oxnbould’s youth – his is my favorite performance here. This is the kind of film that may seem slight, but as you think about it more, the more you will realize its layers.