Wildlife ★★★★

”What’s going to happen to us?”

1960, Montana. Shiny cars and modest middle-class houses that accommodate honest typical nuclear families are set against the quiet beauty of the Rocky Mountains. From that tranquility emerges a strange desolation. There is nothing to turn to, no distractions. You are forced to contemplate your own disappointment. That may be why the farce this family was living collapses so abruptly. The homecooked dinners, the playing in the backyard, the intimacy and compromise – the ingredients of the American dream turn out to be faux. That foolish belief in dreams that is so characteristic of Americans goes down the drain as the family approaches the Canadian border. Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) takes time-out and leaves his wife (Carey Mulligan) and son (Ed Oxenbould) behind. He joins the firefighters and goes put out wildfires in an attempt to surmount his personal demons and, perhaps, demonstrate that he has not failed as a man. Jean, with no husband by her side and no prosperity in a foreseeable future, engages in an affair with an older rich man from the local community. Unmet expectations and unspoken anger bring down the Brinson family. We see it all through the eyes of an unlikely sweet fourteen-year-old boy. The direction is sensitive and understated, as if permeated by the soft-spoken nature of the protagonist. Dano recreates the time period with exquisite preciseness (costumes, sets and photography are all impressive) and through this deconstruction of a family in crisis he reflects about bigger truths about the nature of relationships, masculinity, womanhood and success in the United States.