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Keep the Change (2017)
A Lovely Surprise
When I decided to watch Keep the Change my idea of what it would be about was pretty wrong. I had no idea it was about people on the spectrum. It was during the first scene of the support group that I started to understand that it was, especially when it zeroed in on Sarah. It took a while longer to realize that David too was on the spectrum; the character's desire to make people think he was just an average guy with "allergies" worked... for a while. And this was a big part of the film: David's coming to terms with who he was. In contrast, the character of Sarah was just so confident and comfortable within herself, she was a joy to watch. She's spontaneous, expressive and creative the way a child is. She also has the innocence of a child which is all the more striking as part of her acceptance of who she is includes sexuality! I believe it's the character of Sarah that gives the film its feeling of joy, which, in fact, David can't help but get swept up in himself. I just love how Sarah is so strong while being so innocent and childlike. Even in the end, she performs a heroic gesture, which was ultimately both moving and gratifying for me.
Music, Sex, Religion and Alcoholism
Do these four usually go together? They co-existed nicely in this film, but because I'm not a fan of "lesbian folk" music I didn't care for there being so much of it! Sex - not a lot of it but what there was, was intense. Religion - the subjects of Jesus and Catholic values kept coming up. Alcoholism - seemed to be thrown in there as a non-issue except in the mind of Becks' mother and and a tease by Becks' enjoyment of booze. And then there were the main characters, all of whom were interesting and well-drawn and acted. I found the script to be very well-written; there were even a few lol moments for me.
I am very interested in most of the reviews here commenting on the "love story" in this movie. Maybe I'm really getting old, but I saw the relationship between Becks and Elyse not so much as love as lust. But then, probably most love relationships start as lust? Anyway, as I think about it, perhaps it was truly love in the end when Becks goes back to NYC without Elyse. Rather than wreck more than one person's life, she chooses to sacrifice the love/lust. So the story of "Becks the Wreck" ends on a high moral note!
The Tomorrow Man (2019)
Couldn't Get Into It
Perhaps I shouldn't review The Tomorrow Man as I only watched the first 30 minutes or so then turned it off. I'd decided to watch it because of the two leads, and also because being in that age range myself, I thought, great - a romance about 'older' people.
Why I couldn't get into it, well, I was really turned off by Ronnie, Blythe Danner's character. She seemed as if she were either on sedating drugs, or was suffering from a vegetative depression, or had had a stroke, or was just plain dumb. Yes, she had ongoing sadness about the death of her daughter years before, but knowing this didn't make watching her more enjoyable for me. Perhaps she perked up as the movie went on... If she did, I can't help but wonder whether the low, dreary quality of her voice lifted.
Ed, John Lithgow's character, was the driving force in the relationship, at least initially. Being quite assertive, he bust through Ronnie's stupor and got her interested. Ed is supposed to be quirky, preparing for Doomsday in contrast to Ronnie's being into things, and the here and now.
Another thing that turned me off was that I had hoped to relate to them as being in the same generation. None (that I saw) of the usual features of the 'Baby Boom' generation were there, at least in the first thirty minutes. Perhaps this was intentional on the part of the writer, not wanting to fall into stereotypes. For me, though, it put them in a sort of generational vacuum, which I found disconcerting and distancing.
John Lithgow did an adequate acting job as usual, but this film was not Blythe Danner's finest moment. Or maybe it was and I just couldn't get into the character she played. Either way, it was money down the drain for me.
The Biggest Little Farm (2018)
Marrying the Physical and Metaphysical
What made this film so much more than a documentary about two people starting a farm, was John Chester's narration. Throughout the film he shared not only what was happening with the farm and all its components and inhabitants, but the meaning behind it all. So many reviewers here referred to the film as "inspiring" and I found it to be so, too. This was thanks to, along with the beautiful cinematography, the conclusions that Chester drew and presented to us. For me perhaps the most rewarding thread was that even the so-called pests were necessary and useful. The film is a true presentation of Yin and Yang: you can't have the positive without the negative and vice versa.
What was also inspiring to me was the way Chester learned to problem-solve. I'm sure that in real life trying to cope with the "problems" was more painful and stressful than appeared in the film, but his way of first observing, then analyzing, then formulating a solution was a hopeful and optimistic lesson.
Having in one film both the physical beauty of the farm that evolved, along with the insight into the process and Chester's ultimate conclusions was a real gift. And, P.S. I loved the way he wove in the birth of their son with the life and death phenomenon that the farm highlights so effectively!
The Door (2012)
After the first few minutes of The Door, I was thinking, will I be able to watch this all the way through? This was because it had the hallmarks of an arty, experimental film that usually winds up too boring to watch. Happily, this turned out not to be the case.
I started out watching The Door thinking that if Helen Mirren was in it it couldn't be too weird or pretentious. And, it wasn't. But it was different, creative, engrossing and interesting. The film's Tag Line indicates that it's about a relationship between two women with the focus on the relationship. This was true however I would amend that to say that the focus was really on Mirren's character who was the oddity in it. She was the pivot around which everyone and everything revolved.
The film was written, directed and photographed well enough that it wasn't boring. And, the acting, especially of Mirren, helped immensely. Someone without her skill and talent wouldn't have pulled it off. The character she played was unpleasant, bossy, critical, and lived by her own rules. At the same time there was enough about her that was positive to allow the film to work.
This is the kind of film you don't want to miss if you like to watch those that are not only entertaining but are something of a phenomenon, causing you to think.
The Dressmaker (1988)
An Unexpected Wow!
I know a film is powerful when I find myself talking out loud to the characters. This was the case with The Dressmaker. The four main characters: Rita, Margo, Nellie and Jack, each had an intense character to play and did so with great acting. And, the script itself gave them a great vehicle in which to display their considerable skills.
I found myself thinking about something I was taught when writing a filmscript: a main goal of the script is to produce emotion, both in the characters and in the viewers. This film did so in spades. The plot had enough going in it, including the relationships between the main four, to produce intense feelings. Enough so I was compelled to try and tell them what to do or think or say.
The ending was both unexpected and satisfying in a odd way. Having a satisfying ending was a relief after such tension.
If you want to watch a great drama about both familial relationships and their interactions with world events (WWII) don't miss this film.
Two Excellent Actors Bomb
Actually, it's not the actors per se, but the script and the film itself. After paying for it, I wound up turning it off less than midway. It's one of those films that is not believable, not funny, stupid and ludicrous. Oh, and did I say predictable? It reminded me of certain British films and TV shows in which the so-called humor has cruelty implicit in it, and for me, is impossible to watch. Watch at your own risk!
Good Enough (2016)
"Good Enough" and Then Some
I wasn't going to write a review but as no one else has I feel I must. I find it fascinating that there are no reviews; I assume it's because not that many people have seen it...? Anyway, starting with the title: it's a phrase that attracted me. As someone who's been on both sides of the therapist's couch, I can attest to the words "good enough" being discussed on many occasions, particularly when complaints or negativity are being aired. I don't remember where or when the phrase came up in the film, but I'm assuming it was said by the main character (who I've learned also wrote, directed and produced the film) to give voice to her mood, or else to something that was going on about which she wasn't very happy.
It's kind of a strange film. As I try to make sense of it in order to write this, I'm thinking that it was sort of blah, not terrible, not wonderful, but, yes, good enough! That's how everything was in the film: the characters, the story line, the mood and settings, the ending: all rather calm despite some troubled emotions and interactions. I found it to be the kind of film that's interesting enough to keep watching while doing other things at the same time. (If a film is very engrossing it will have my undivided attention.)
Ultimately, I chose to rate it a 7 instead of a 6 because I admire the young woman, AnnaRose King, for creating and putting it all together and doing a more than "good enough" acting job in the role of Lorna. She deserves a whole lot of credit and certainly, good reviews.
Die Unsichtbaren (2017)
A Great Addition
One reviewer here asks how much more drama can be "squeezed" from this "event". I would answer an infinite amount. There will never be too much that can be said or portrayed about the largest act of genocide, torture and madness. To the already copious number of films on the subject, comes The Invisibles, a docudrama, so labeled with names of the two genres that combine successfully to make up this film. I thought the combination worked extremely well. Having the actual photographic footage of Berlin during the war gave the film an aura of authenticity that enhanced it. Also, the interviewing of the survivors, combined with enactments of what they were reporting, also worked extremely well. In fact, seeing and listening to them made watching the film more bearable for me as I knew they avoided the horrific fate that most of their compatriots didn't. The only reason I rated The Invisibles a 9 and not a 10 was because in a couple of instances I experienced some confusion, mainly about who was who. I think there could have been a bit more clarity in this area. Other than that, the world now has another documentation of something that you'd think happens only in nightmares.
The Grey (2011)
Great Addition to Survival Films
I wasn't going to review this film, seeing as there already are many reviews, but because so many of them pan the movie, I am. I really enjoyed it, despite turning away from some of the more gory scenes with the wolves. I also am not usually a big fan of Liam Neeson but I must say I enjoyed how he played his role in this. I liked the screenplay: I thought the characterizations of the 7 survivors were well done and believable. Unlike many other reviewers here, I was able to suspend disbelief, and get into what was happening. I also loved the scenery, and the snowstorms. It was a visual treat. In fact, when Diaz was explaining why the other guys should just leave him and let him die, I understood perfectly what he was getting at. I found it moving and fantastic that he was so moved by the natural beauty surrounding him. Despite its Hollywood presentation of men surviving a plane crash, then being picked off one by one by scary, ferocious wolves, the movie was also philosophical and deep. Liam's character, Ottway, was both deep and superficial. And that, to me, is very real. As the film neared the end I was worried that the ending would be like the ending of "Arctic". It was similar in its ambiguity but it was also much more positive in that Liam/Ottway prepared once again to fight for his life. Quite profound considering that at the beginning of the story he held the barrel of his rifle in his mouth, contemplating ending his life. His trek through deep snow, trying to survive while helping the others and fighting wolves, took him a long, long way...
America Says (2018)
Could/Should be Better
There's a lot to get annoyed at in this show, besides the contestants' seeming lack of awareness of what's going on. The host, JMH, seems like he would be fun to have dinner with. He's intelligent with a decent sense of humor. But some of the things he says as host, such as "Fifteen Thousand Dollars: Did you hear that?" Or, "Fifteen thousand dollars: that's a lot of money!" Is it really a lot of money to him? I don't think so. I can't help thinking of my adolescent self saying "What a phony!" Or he'll announce what's next, such as Round 2, then ask the contestant, "Is that alright with you?" I'm waiting for a contestant to say "No, Michael, it's not alright with me," or better yet, No you *^#^! The other one he'll say is OK, Team ABCD will start off the round as they're a little bit ahead of the other team." Now, Team ABCD could be 5000 points ahead of the other team and he will still say "they're a little bit ahead..." Like I said, really phony.
Lots of Snow, Ice and Sky
There was a lot that was excellent in Arctic: the cinematography, Mads Mikkelsen, and the story until the end. I was disappointed by the ending... I'm of the opinion that if I'm going to watch a film in which people go through hell, experiencing all sorts of brutal pain and hardship, at least let there be some reward or redemption at the end. There're enough hellish things going on in real life that have horrific endings. I want my "entertainment" to transcend this. True, the ending was ambiguous; perhaps either or both of the characters were still alive when the helicopter landed. So there's a possible "good" ending. But the way it was, ambiguous at best, and unambiguous at worst, it left me feeling down, and who needs that!?
Unga Astrid (2018)
Learn Something New Every Day
Not since I was a child have I thought of the name Pippi Longstocking. I don't remember the books, nor did I ever know the name of the author, but as a writer myself I was interested in seeing this movie. I found it very engrossing and educational, both about Astrid Ericsson Lindgren and about Swedish culture in the early twentieth century. (I was so impressed with the scene in which Astrid's father had a completely civil conversation with the man who had
impregnated his adolescent daughter.) Though I know nothing about Astrid besides her being the author of Pippi Longstocking, I thought Alba August did an excellent job of playing her. As a veritable child with a baby she couldn't keep, or at least thought she couldn't, she portrayed understandable ambivalence and indecisiveness. She also played her seeming cluelessness about being a mother very well. I also came away with a strong sense of why she became a writer of children's books. It was a worthwhile way of spending a couple of hours.
The Widower (2013)
A Tragedy That Finally Stopped
I knew nothing about this case before watching The Widower. I found it to be compelling, yet appalling viewing. I found myself rooting actively for the victims, including speaking out loud to the second and third ones. I also found myself having very strong, visceral reactions to Webster which made me realize what a fantastic acting job Reese Shearsmith did. He was PERFECT, nailing the part of a man playing a victim himself, appealing to the empathic, care-taking natures of many women. Yes, he was charming, as Victim #2 says, and he was also smarmy. Even writing this I'm grimacing and feel like throwing something! One of the other reviews here complained that the TV version was not really like reality. Well, there often is a big difference between fiction and non-fiction. And, having read at least one article about what happened (Wikipedia) I realized that much had been left out, including Webster's involvement with several other women, and changed, for the sake of a dramatic thread in the show. I also learned that there is a book that the show was adapted from and I'd guess that anyone who wants true-to-life details should read it, including yours truly.
Within the Whirlwind (2009)
Gripping as well as Educational
It's only recently through films like Within the Whirlwind that I've come to understand how Stalin and Hitler were two sides of the same coin. While Hitler's torturous siege of Europe was destroying millions of lives, Stalin was doing the same in Russia and its soviet countries. Within the Whirlwind is a portrayal of one woman's experience of being scapegoated and punished for alleged "crimes" she didn't do. Watching the Russian party bosses attempt to destroy Genia Ginzburg's sanity and ultimately her life, one gains insight into what millions of Eastern Europeans and Russians, who weren't brought to German concentration camps, were stuck in the Russian equivalent. Ginzburg's story, which includes despair ultimately challenged by love, is compelling and uplifting. Emily Watson's portrayal of Ginsburg is brilliant. Overall, an important film to see.
Where Hands Touch (2018)
Mixed Bag of a Movie
I very much enjoyed watching Where Hands Touch despite being aware of what I consider to be its problems. To my knowledge, no stories/films have been done before from the perspective of a black person in Nazi Germany or Europe. Which leads to one of the problems in the film: the character of Leyna, the beautiful biracial girl around whom the film revolves, appears to have so little knowledge or awareness of herself as a Nazi target. She focuses on herself as a German and appears ignorant of why she should fear for her life. As time goes on, of course, and more persecutory and threatening things happen to her, she becomes more aware of how in Nazi eyes she's the same as a Jew, i.e., subhuman and therefore open to the most heinous forms of abuse and torture. As I watched her I kept thinking, she can't really be that naive... Also, her mother's not explaining this to her sufficiently in other than abstract terms was not only disturbing but unrealistic.
Another characterological discrepancy was in the father of Lutz. Here I was just plain confused. He was presented as both a leading Nazi commandant in the concentration camp, but... huh? In secret he loved American jazz and artists like Billie Holiday and he was against war as a result of his experience in WWI seeing people die for nothing, and yet... ? None of this was very convincing, especially once the characters were in the concentration camp. Of course what he does to his son towards the end of the film... well that to me was an obvious plot point, something done for the sake of the film's dramatic action, and not for the inherent realism of the characters and their stories.
Finally, the relationship between Leyna, the biracial girl, and Lutz, the Nazi young man, bordered on being unbelievable, based on the question of "why?". As there is no outward reason given for their attraction, the explanation had to come from my own interpretation which was that 1) Lutz "loved" her because she was beautiful and 2) Leyna "loved" him because he loved her and presumably she was attracted to him. These "explanations" were enough to justify whatever risks to their lives they both took in the name of their love and to explain why neither of them seemed to question why they were "in love" with a person so antipathetic to their lives.
But again, despite these points of confusion in the script, the film was compelling with some excellent acting and cinematography.
Ashes in the Snow (2018)
Brutal, Intense, and Great!
I watch a lot of movies about the Holocaust. While Ashes in the Snow is not exactly about the Holocaust it's a first cousin, a separate instance of people being brutalized by people. What makes this movie so great in my book is how it was done. The script, the acting and the photography all were excellent. I got totally engrossed, to the point that when it was over I found myself sobbing. Watching what people had to tolerate was mind-boggling as seeing Holocaust and war films always is. There were a few plot twists that added to the emotional impact, such as one of the Russian soldiers being told by his Commander that he feels too much. That is a story thread that follows him. There are relationships between the main girl character and a boy or two, between her and her mother. There was her art. The scene in which she sketches the portrait of the Commander, as he orders her to, and then shows it to him: his reaction when he sees himself portrayed as an angry, vicious, hirsute man is priceless. There are many scenes like this that make this film into something great. Also the photography when they are in what's supposed to be the Arctic Circle is amazing. Long shots of snow covered land and sea, with setting sun; I was shivering just watching it. It captures the feeling of end-of-the-world desolation incredibly well. I highly recommend this film, but be ready. And, have a box of tissues nearby.
Spring 1941 (2007)
Powerful, Moving, and Engrossing
I've seen many Holocaust and WWII films, and for me Spring 1941 is up there among the best of them. It shows how people would tolerate just about anything to save their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. In this case, a Jewish couple left their home in order to avoid Nazi capture. Along the way one of their young daughters is killed. The remaining child and the parents stay at the home of a local farmer who also happens to be in love with the husband in the couple, as he was her doctor. They enter into a relationship and the scorned wife wants out. Ultimately the husband chooses his family over the farmer, and they take their chances by leaving the farmer's home and joining the Jews being marched to god knows where.
The story of the past is interspersed with the story of the wife thirty years later when she has become a famous cellist and returns to Poland to receive an award. I believe the alternating between 1941 and 1971 was done effectively. By the film's end it has evolved into a real tear jerker, presenting the overwhelming sadness that the characters have had to bear, from 1941 to the present. That's what came across most intensely for me: that no matter what the details were of any individual's or family's story, every one of them was tragic with an ensuing lifetime of sad memories. No matter how extensive the accomplishments of Holocaust survivors, and no matter how much time passes, the images of their perished loved ones and the heinous sadistic abuse they endured, never go away.
For such an intense, emotional story, I think the acting was excellent and did it justice. I never felt, as at least one reviewer did, that the film descended into melodrama.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Tear Jerker But Not For Sadness
Scanning some reviews here I had to agree when someone wrote they felt both sad and elated at the end of this film. Exactly! I found myself in tears and it was because of how incredibly moving the film is. What a masterful portrayal of a real person. When Queen was in its heyday, I was still mourning over the end of the 60's and didn't pay too much attention to those bands with one-word names. It wasn't until later in my life that I started to really listen to Queen and get into it. Also, I didn't know much about Freddie Mercury so watching this film taught me a lot. I didn't know what a creative, energetic, driven artist Freddie was, or how hungry he was for his audiences' love. The way the film showed him as well the other band members and the music drove home how extremely talented he was. I kept wondering what would have become of him had AIDS not gotten him. Somehow I feel he would have died young anyway, the way stars do who burn so bright they just explode and are gone.
Berlin, I Love You (2019)
High Energy, Low Everything Else
Who would think that a film with so many stars in it would be so boring? Not me. In fact it was because of the cast list, as well as the previous "I Love You, City" movies that I even decided to watch it. I found myself throughout the film wondering if the producers of it weren't somehow enticed to do this film by government workers responsible for increasing tourism.
Berlin is very low on my list of places to see, and it still is after seeing this. The producers were not subtle about their goal of creating an image of Berlin today as a city that's hip, young, open-minded, creative, and fun. A city where anything goes. Rather than focus on all these little stories of love, I think they should have focused more on whatever physical and/or architectural beauty the city has because I'm left thinking there must not be much since they didn't showcase it.
Also, Berlin's and Germany's past were like the elephant in the room: it's filling the room but no one's talking about it. OK, there were maybe two mentions of the past, including a few commemorative plaques in the sidewalk but little else. I think the film would have been much better if the past had had a role worked into the storyline, perhaps being comparative with the present. The present could have been highlighted in comparison to the past.
Instead, the past was barely mentioned, while the producers worked hard to connect the individual stories with Berlin, implying they couldn't have happened elsewhere. Not only did I not buy this but I was left with a sense of, yeah, OK, now what? I actually looked forward to the film ending.
I gave it a three because it has a lot of energy, plus there were great intentions (I think!) behind the making of it. Also, some of the scenes were quite atmospheric.
The Romanoffs: End of the Line (2018)
The Best of Eight Great Episodes
While I thoroughly enjoyed all eight episodes of Season 1 of The Romanoffs, I'd say Episode 7, End of the Line, is the superstar of the group. It is some of the most compelling TV watching, and filmed dramas in general, that I've seen. There are two factors I believe caused this show to have such impact: one is the setting and photography. Supposed to be Russia, though filmed in its neighbor, Romania, it just oozed strangeness and cold - both literal and figurative. The realism of the snow-covered neighborhoods was incredibly effective in combining with the foreign-ness of the environment to make the couple in it feel alienated and anxious. Likewise for the portrayal of the bureaucratic details, including the shabbiness of much that they encountered, along with the rules, the bureaucrats, and the presence of military people with guns posted everywhere.
The second factor is the combined effect of an outstanding script and equally exceptional acting. Together, Ferguson and Hahn were so realistic and believable that I don't see how any viewer could fail to feel the emotions they were presumably feeling. Or, maybe I should speak for myself and say how I felt all the various emotions - and they went through a wide range - the husband and wife experienced. From beginning to end this drama was utterly believable, and as said above, compelling. Bravo to the writers, director, actors and everyone involved.
Helped By Great Natural Beauty
This is the third movie I've watched in as many days in which a middle-aged marriage with children is presented as routine and boring, especially for the wife who then encounters a crisis related to that and to what's lacking in her relationship with her husband and otherwise. (For anyone who's interested the other two were Tully, for which I posted a review on this site, and The Wife, which I haven't as of this writing.)
I very much enjoyed this film, if for no other reason than the beauty of the settings. As someone who hungers to travel to places such as Corsica, which to me are exotic and gorgeous, no matter how much a film may be lacking in other ways, the scenery usually makes up for it. This film, however, was not seriously lacking in any way. The only real criticism I have of it is its predictability. But even that doesn't matter.
I always find Sandrine Bonnaire to be charming, in an intelligent, waif-like way and she didn't disappoint in this film. Kevin Kline was suitable as the older, professorial employer and teacher. While none of the acting could be called outstanding, it was all pleasantly good.
And that kind of wraps it up for the film too: pleasantly good. Upbeat in a down-to-earth, realistic way. Plus, the great natural beauty, which was outstanding and a treat for this viewer.
Spread Too Thin
A lot was going on in this movie; if one saw the ending without having seen the rest of it, they would conclude it was about a troubled marriage that was resolved, evidenced by the husband and the wife hugging and saying, "I love us." For me this was a weird and unsatisfactory ending to a movie that had so many issues touched upon. Here's a rundown: there was the issue of aging; changing body image; changing one's lifestyle from wild and crazy to settled and stable; all the issues of having not one, not two, but three children including the issues of pregnancy and childbirth; the issue of breast feeding and the considerable impact it has on one's body and one's lifestyle; the inevitable chasm that develops between a stay-at-home mom and a hard-working husband who also is trying to be a good dad; lack of sexual relationship for many justified reasons; post-partum depression; ruing the loss of pre-marriage and motherhood interests (in this case, she was an English Lit. major in college); homoerotic feelings and referred-to relationships, including implications of such between Theron main character and the nanny; need for self-care, respect and support; the considerable difficulties of having an autistic child; dealing with extended family; family financial issues; and ultimately the presence of subconscious dreams and goals present in both day and night dreams, impacting on her sense of her day-to-day life.
Yes, all of these were in this film, and there may be more which I've left out. Very ambitious to try and touch upon all this in an hour and a half or so. Though I enjoyed watching it, thanks to Charlize Theron's superb acting skills and much less to the script, when it finished I was sitting here going "Huh?" Is that what Diablo Cody intended? Somehow I don't think so, but then, who knows? Perhaps she was aiming for an overall sense of chaos with an ending that didn't really feel resolved.
A Fantasy and Poetry
I just saw Wonderstruck and then read several of the reviews here. Yes, I always read reviews after I see a film. That's because reading several reviews, had I not seen the film, I wouldn't know what the hell it was about, whether it was good or not, whether the plot, script and/or acting was good or not. The opinions run the gamut from the best to the worst. As for me, I am a little above the middle, as my "7" rating implies.
I chose to watch this movie because I wanted to watch something with a "good" ending along with a plot that didn't have evil and corruption and violence ruining people and lives en route to the happy ending. So, a "child's" movie made sense. But I found out, as I had expected, that it's also for adults, that is, adults who can suspend their forces of reasoning, logic and need for progressive action in favor of a more relaxed, intuitive and trippy way of experiencing what's before them.
For me, much of the experience of seeing and hearing Wonderstruck was like reading a poem, viewing a painting and/or listening to music. I absorbed it and "went with the flow." I found it to be a visual feast, as the time periods frequently changed, as did the characters and the plotline, at least that's how I felt. Hey, I didn't even realize Rose was deaf until about three quarters of the way through. This is a film in which the details are not as important, or effective, as the sum of the parts. For anyone who is considering whether or not to watch it I'd say go for it; it's a beautiful film if you leave your usual ways of watching a film at the door, and go in prepared for poetry and fantasy.
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.