Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Wakefield - Review

Image result for wakefield bryan cranston
(Image found here)

'I never left my family, I left myself.'

Wakefield is one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, it was like watching a novel. I expected a magnified Wall Street struggle with the dark comedy genre labelled across it, which is often treacherous waters. Instead, I was given an incredible almost one-man show that deals with a nervous breakdown and allows Cranston to deliver his best performance since Breaking Bad and Trumbo as the distant, deprived and sometimes disgusting human that is Howard Wakefield.  

The film is adapted from a short story that director Robin Swicord had tried over eight yeas to bring to the big screen , directing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button amidst this period, and was eventually giving the go ahead funding. The plot unfolds like a novel and as Howard isolates himself in the attic above his garage, across from his home, his narration of the story grows the more he rescinds into his own mind. Dark comedy is a strange label for this film I found, there are absolutely some laughable moments but it's within the strange mindset and actions that the nervous breakdown produces. This gives some light solace from the grim reality of the situation but these usually come at Howard's expense, which works well the more you get to know him.

Wakefield never tries to be humorous which is a real strength and you're never asked to like or dislike Howard, it's more enduring alongside him. The isolation is handled so well creating this modern collision of Gone Girl and Rear Window with a world hating Walter White feeling above everyone else - literally and figuratively. His actual humanity as well as his sanity are always in question, the rationalisation of the events to Howard makes him hysterical, familiarising the unfamiliar. 

Image result for wakefield movie
(Image found here)

The discreet details are what really had me loving this film, from Cranston's delicate expression acting - think Tom Hardy in any Christopher Nolan film - and the symbolism that runs across the narrative. Wakefield grips you and pushes you away similar to the relationship between Howard and his wife (Jennifer Garner), you sympathise for Howard and hate him simultaneously it's a very peculiar character. Garner's character leaves something to be desired as the helplessly abandoned wife and mother, but she plays it very well, and just like Howard I found myself sympathising for her as much as I hated her for not being stronger. 

Swicord brings her tremendous emotional direction to Wakefield and with Cranston at her disposal proves for some truly powerful storytelling. Not only raising mental awareness, the film takes note on the technology travesty and once detached Howard literally watches himself fade from his previous life, mourning what he still has. Worrying about the footprints he could leave in the snow, Howard finds himself buried beneath it - Wakefield is one of the most intriguing and underrated films of the year with a strong performances and direction that will linger with the audience long after viewing it.

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