Haunted is the word that came to mind when someone asked me to describe the movie Wild Life. My husband Dave chose Wild Life as a Valentine’s Day movie we could watch together. Sadly, although it is a film about love, it chronicles the ending of a love story.
I was haunted by the stunning cinematography in this movie. I kept thinking as I watched it that certain scenes on which the camera lingered could have been painted by Edward Hopper or perhaps Andrew Wyeth. It is beyond me how this film could not have garnered an Oscar nomination for cinematography.
I was haunted by the stunning performances of all three main actors. Joe Brinson plays fourteen year old Ed Oxenbould, a nice kid who is finding out as every child eventually does, that the parents he loved and idolized are actually very flawed human beings. Jerry Brinson, Joe’s father, is an out of work golf professional played by Jake Gyllenhaal who is struggling with trying to fullfill his expected 1950s role as family head and bread winner. Carey Mulligan is Joe’s mother Jeannette who is trying to find out who she is in the 1950s when a women’s main role was wife and mother and finding an identity outside that expected framework was hard.
Although each of the main characters in this movie makes some tragic choices you still are ever so drawn to them, you care deeply about them and you feel their pain. I cannot understand why all three were not nominated for an Oscar. They are brilliant!
I was haunted by the wild fires in Montana that provide a back drop to this movie. They give a scary edge to some scenes especially one in which Joe and his mother Jeannette go out the location where their husband and father Jerry is fighting the forest fires. Joe is so scared his parents’ marriage is going up in flames and that adds an extra ragged shard of fear to a scene where Joe is way too close to the raging fire.
I was haunted by the final scene in this movie. It was a brilliant bit of film making. A beautiful moment but oh so very heart rendingly sad.
Wild Life probably wasn’t a great pick for a Valentine’s Day movie but it was a great movie!
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