(2018) 105 mins
Carey Mulligan delivers a gripping and textured performance as the mother from heaven and hell in this startling directorial debut from the character actor Paul Dano. A liberal adaptation set in the early 1960s of the Richard Ford novel about a golfer turned firefighter, it becomes a ruthless dissection of a marriage in the midst of a punishing implosion.
Mulligan, on her strongest form since her Oscar-nominated turn in 2009’s An Education, plays Laura, a seemingly chipper housewife in rural Montana who dotes over her 14-year-old son, Joe, patiently tends to her embittered former sports pro and now ostensibly unemployable husband Gerry (Jake Gyllenhaal, also peerless), and greets every new family trauma with a kindly word of homespun wisdom.
The Times: "But the real beauty of Wildlife, and what marks Dano out as one to watch, is an ending that’s quiet, apt, unshowy and yet also exquisitely sad." (4 stars)
The Telegraph: "Carey Mulligan is deft in Paul Dano's beautifully melancholic directorial debut." (4 stars)
The Independent: "Wildlife isn’t any kind of feelgood romp, but it has an emotional richness and subtlety you simply don’t find in most movies about the growing pains of American teenagers." (4 stars)