More Pepper. Less Spicy.
Dano’s marital advice that keeps poking us until we nod in disbelief or belief, against all odds, works with good score. Without any quirkiness- as the films with such genre usually does- Dano has his vision sharp enough to cut through all the boredom or complaints there ever might be. And the credit has to and does go to Kazan and Dano himself, whose absorbing adaptation offers enough argument to relate to this flawed yet illuminating family.
More to it, the conversations no matter how pragmatic and cinematic, the awkward silence and the stillness pitched for a jarring effect, leaves the audience in awe of it. For obvious reasons, performance factors majorly especially a script written that speaks more from character’s perspective. And to be honest, Gyllenhaal seems to feel short handed on filling these empty voids compared to Mulligan. Mulligan, the real deal of the film, the breadwinner of the family, has done a marvelous work on pulling off such a repellant character.
In Gyllenhaal’s defense, he too has managed to stay on ground in his eerily not-so-likeable character. But this has always been Mulligan’s game, since the first touch. From her make believe attitude to a self obsessed persona, she is offered an immense amount of room to flaunt in her skills which she delivers with a broad scary smile on the face. And stretching her muscles like never before, she can easily be the friendly guardian and the bitter taunting figure that never sees past herself. On the other hand, Gyllenhaal feels more comfortable in his initial stages where the gullible nature of his is cloaked aptly, but when it comes to scratch-to-hurt on screen, he fumbles in front of Mulligan’s behemoth scary stature.
Oxenbould bodes well as the audience of this melodramatic act staged by his parents, figuring out the trajectory like us, he is convincingly good on his role of the bridge between this opposite natured stations. The film comes alive after the first act passes by, when Mulligan takes charge on the world with shady seducing intentions of attracting the glossier and flashier city in her life. Wisely, Dano never fabricates the mistakes as a pity on screen, his job to state the figures and facts is what keeps the tale perfectly balanced. The race to win, that our characters sprints for is certainly not against each other but the time itself.
Even though the tale is narrated through their kid, their nature to live once more without any strings is a brilliant idea to leave our host hanging in the mid-air along with our jaws dropped. The detour that the film takes by imputing a love interest from Mulligan could have easily gone wrong as an overstretched routine, but with a crisp tensed environment offered to it with a sense of uncertainty, leaves us wanting for more of the thrill. Dano’s world is mundane but lopping off the manners, his arrogance is more than welcome in this Wildlife where the mania of fire is the least of our concerns.