You won’t hear Ford’s sentence anyplace in Paul Dano’s astonishingly assured film adaptation. It finds its personal intrinsically cinematic means to inform the story of the Brinsons, a household of three in Great Falls, Montana, that’s about to return undone. But Dano and his cowriter, Zoe Kazan, decline to provide us the reassurance of retrospection. In the movie, there isn’t any settled adult version of Joe to mediate this story for us from a distance of many years. For Wildlife’s three main characters, there exist only the delicate present and the very close to future, which looks like a cliff’s edge over which they’re all about to tumble.
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Edward Yang’s Yi Yi and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Still Walking had been influences, and so was the work of Yasujiro Ozu; when you’ve seen his 1951 movie Early Summer, you could discover Wildlife’s wistful and complex final image significantly resonant. Dano’s reverence for Ozu’s work is manifest in his low-angle interior shots, the place he positions his camera as if a silent, observant guest is in the room with the Brinsons. But his capturing type isn’t merely an homage; it’s always thoughtfully natural to the story he’s telling. We watch Jerry, Jeanette, and Joe play out their difficult dynamic in a space that, tellingly, never appears large enough for all of them. In Wildlife, what’s outdoors is each ridiculously huge—it’s Montana, after all—and threateningly near, simply outdoors the home windows that seem somehow too close to the … Read More