12 January 2019 | Moviegoer19
Slice of Life
I very much enjoyed watching Wildlife. Whether it was a Directorial Debut or a director's tenth film, I found it to be superb, which I suppose speaks of the talent of Paul Dano. (Did anyone else feel there is some resemblance between the actor who played Joe and Paul? Just an aside...) The film, as other reviewers have mentioned, has a restraint to it which works well and stops it from descending into overdone pathos. In its strong quiet way it brought up emotions in me which made it a compelling film to watch. I was very involved with the experience of each character. They each were realistic with very realistic concerns. I would say that perhaps the overriding emotion I felt was anger at the parents because they each gave in to their selfish needs and wants, while leaving their 14 year old son to be the mature one. What does "mature" mean here? It means doing what's right, as in the Buddhist "right action." Jeanette, the mother, did things that made her feel good; she gave in to her own egotistic wounds and tried to fix them, at her son's expense. Likewise, Jerry, the father, did too. He drank, he gave up a job out of pride, and he ultimately pursued an adventure, also rather than do what would have been more responsible, and also, more dull. Joe, the son, was the one who was focused on the three of them as a family, as captured in the final shot of the film, symbolic as it was. One could say the theme of Wildlife was Family vs. the Individual, i.e., how much can adults sacrifice of their own desires and ambitions in the name of the family unit and/or the children? By extension, it can also be asked how is it possible, assuming it is, to satisfy both. Ironically, the teenage Joe enabled his parents to respectively pursue their own desires while he maintained the family unit. I'd wholeheartedly recommend this multi-faceted film to anyone who prefers depth to flash.