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Screener Squad: Wildlife

Paul Dano has made the leap from actor to writer/director, alongside his established writer partner Zoe Kazan, in this adaptation of Richard Ford’s 1990 novel. The story revolves around Joe (Ed Oxenbould), a young boy living in Montana during the 1960’s. His father Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal), after losing his job as a golf attendant, has taken a new job fighting wildfires that will require him to leave the family for several months. Once he leaves, Joe sees his mother Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) slowly unravel as she neglects his needs and falls for an older neighbor named Warren (Bill Camp). How will Joe be able to handle his own coming-of-age if his parents can’t deal with their own deep seeded problems?

Justin and Davey have brought along One of Us regular Frank Calvillo for this review to see if Paul Dano is the latest in the recent trend of successful transitions from actor to filmmaker. Thankfully, their answer is not simply ‘Yes,’ but an enthusiastic ‘YES!!!’ Hear them wax on about this gorgeously shot, well-written, well-directed and superbly acted film that tackles marital drama and teenage anxiety with more nuance and compassion than most movies by veteran filmmakers. If this is what Paul Dano and Zoey Kazan can do their first time collaborating together behind the cameras, we can’t wait to see what they do next.

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