Review written 10/05/2018
So my first screening of Cannes 2018 has been and passed, after the hustle of getting into the majestic Palais I made the ascent to the quaint Bunuel theatre for a little publicised but much anticipated film, Willdlife. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan alongside newcomer Ed Oxenbould, the film follows the breakdown of a small American family against a backdrop of the dramatic Rockies mountain range and the oncoming wildfire that is ever-building but never reaching, destroying on the peripheries of idyllic suburban America as a metaphor for the internal ruptures explored throughout.
In short, I loved it. Slow, brooding, incendiary, director Paul Dano’s Wildlife is as potent and as threatening to the idyllic American familial structure as the wildfire that lingers at the periphery of his film. Gyllenhaal and Mulligan are fantastic, as we may only expect, but youngster Ed Oxenbould is the star, portraying every aching moment of adolescence and the premature growth into the world of adulthood in a way that feels almost too honest at times.
Silences speak volumes, words speak louder than actions, and the actions of the protagonists culminate in a finale that renders you almost speechless. The film is a work of visual and linguistic art, written so intricately and honestly as to transcend the boundaries of fiction at times, drawing memories and emotions from myself that echo uncomfortably true with my own life. The empathetic treatment of the parents’ fallibility and their familial disintegration is laudable, and the ways in which cracks are formed and gradually grow to become irreparable is in equal measures sobering and heartbreaking. To disclose anything more would be to deprive viewers of the cold water chill of going in blind, and so my first review of Cannes 2018 will no doubt be my most impenetrable, but rest assured more will follow in due course.
Family is everything. When it falls apart, what remains? That is the question Dano poses, and it is only fitting, even if frustrating, that we are never given the answer.
Wildlife is due in cinemas November 9th 2018.
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