Wild Life

Director: Paul Dano

Starring: Jake Gyllanhaal, Carey Muligan, Ed Oxenbould

Release Date: October 19, 2018

Paul Dano is best known for his career as an actor. Dano stars in films such as 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, 2007’s There Will Be Blood, and most famously when he teamed with Jake Gyllenhaal in the 2013 thriller Prisoners. Five years later, Dano and Gyllenhaal have pulled off another instant classic: Wildlife.

Wildlife is a family drama that takes place in the gorgeous yet quiet big sky country better known as Montana.

Jerry (Gyllenhaal) is a father, husband and a hardworking man who works at a golf course. When he loses his job, he also loses his sense of purpose, which causes an unsettling future for his family. Jeannette (Carey Muligan), the wife and stay at home mother of Joe (Oxenbould), is then forced to find a job.

By the time Jeannette finds work, Jerry already has one foot out of the door. He is leaning toward going upstate to fight a dangerous forest fire. Like many of the men in the small town, Jerry finds purpose and a sense of honor in protecting his community and family from the fire — even if the pay does not break the bank.

With his father gone and his mother going through a midlife crisis, 14-year-old Joe is left having to grow up faster than maybe he is ready for. Dano paints an unsettling portrait of a young family falling apart from its seams.


Dano uses silence, mood and scenery to set the mood. The lack of a score or music puts the audience in the same room as the characters.

Wildlife is certainly a slow-burner. It is a daunting tale of what life, love, and family can easily turn into. The movie is effective because of the phenomenal performances of its cast, most notably Muligan’s. Keep an eye on her come award season.

Wildlife will make you uncomfortable. Paul Dano’s directorial debut shows us a couple of things: One, the promising actor can do more than be kept hostage with Hugh Jackman beating the shit out of him. Two, he can perfectly craft a film. Director Dano is here to stay, as is Wildlife come award season. Wildlife is definitely worth a watch.

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