Wakefield (2016)

R   |    |  Drama


Wakefield (2016) Poster

Bryan Cranston gives the performance of a lifetime as Howard Wakefield, a lawyer on the edge of madness who has decided to disassociate himself from his own life.


6.3/10
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11 September 2017 | tomsview
7
| Lost in the attic
Who would have thought a movie about a man hiding in his garage spying on his family would work? However what starts out as odd and off-putting, ends up still odd but totally absorbing.

Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston) is a successful New York lawyer with a beautiful wife, Diana (Jennifer Garner), twin daughters and house in an upmarket suburb. Then he suddenly leaves it all behind, he vanishes, but he doesn't go far; he ends up in the attic above his garage studying the lives of his family and his neighbours. As months pass, he lives like a hermit, stealing food from garbage bins at night, but as he studies the others he actually begins to understand more about himself.

Although set in modern day, in a way the Wakefield family seem like a typical family from the 1950s; Howard Wakefield could almost be "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit". Or maybe suburban life just hasn't changed all that much despite smartphones, drones and personal trainers.

The film reminds me of a couple of others where a guy drops out of suburban life and dumps family and responsibility: "Kiss the Sky" with William Peterson and "Tom White", an Australian movie starring Colin Friels.

Unlike the others, Howard does not experience extracurricular sex; a 'new cookie' isn't on his agenda. He just seems alienated from the world that was the norm for most of his life.

"Wakefield" has a light touch but it isn't a comedy. A number of times Howard asks the audience if everybody at some time or other hasn't thought of walking away and starting over? However underlying the whole thing is the feeling that what he is doing to his family, particularly Diana, is cruel. She simply doesn't deserve it. Of course as the movie progresses Howard realises that the problems with his life are mostly of his own doing.

"Wakefield" sneaks up on you. Although the ending is tricky, it's in keeping with the rest of the movie, which is unexpected to say the least.

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