I walked into the screening for Wakefield unable to remember the trailer for this movie. I vaguely remembered the synopsis, (busy day!), but I knew the premise and I have to admit that I’m glad I didn’t remember watching the trailer and I implore you not to watch the trailer as well. I think it gives away too much. I think I enjoyed this movie more with just having read the synopsis.
In Robin Swicord’s adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s short story, successful suburbanite commuter Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston) takes a perverse detour from family life: He vanishes without a trace. Hidden in the attic of his carriage house garage, surviving by scavenging at night, Howard secretly observes the lives of his wife (Jennifer Garner) and children and neighbors. WAKEFIELD becomes a fraught meditation on marriage and identity, as Howard slowly realizes that he has not in fact left his family, he has left himself.
Bryan Cranston gives us a wonderful performance in this movie with him really diving into the character of Howard Wakefield. Now, if you love the sound of Bryan Cranston’s voice then this is the movie for you. This movie has an insane amount of monologue from Cranston with him narrating the audience throughout most of the film. Hearing his voice react to the scenes depicted in the film really gives Cranston opportunity to show off his range in this movie. I couldn’t help but wander a bit and wonder why Cranston isn’t in the DCEU. I don’t mind J.k. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon but I can’t help but wonder what Cranston would look like in that role. Or maybe they’re saving him for something meatier like The Riddler. Or one of the three Jokers?
Anyway, Cranston is weird in this movie and Jennifer Garner does a great job with her physical acting in this movie to reflect the dialogue and emotion described by Cranston which shows the talent of the filmmakers to make that idea work. The movie is about a guy walking away from his life and just staying in his garage attic while everyone panics and worries for his safety. Why does he find this funny? Why doesn’t he WANT to go home? His wife is an ex-stripper! His kids are already teenage and ‘on their way out’. It’s the time to relax!
While watching I couldn’t help but wonder if this movie an example of where homeless people come from? It’s a nice story with nice character study giving us a good look at how Wakefield became increasingly self aware as he withdrew himself from society and its inherent responsibilities but it also alludes to some sort of homeless sub-culture that a lot of us are oblivious. The movie gets a bit confused in its direction with this seeming sub-plot but pulls away and gets back on track during the 2nd act of the movie.
Wakefield meets a pair of children with autism and I have to admit that I get a little cautious whenever I see physically or mentally disabled folk in film. I get really nervous about the the sensitivity of the filmmakers in situations like this but I can happily report that This movie is FINE in that regard and the relationship that Wakefield forges with these children is charming.
The pacing of the film begins to draaaaagg around the 2nd or 3rd act. The character is studied. We get it but the movie takes its sweet time with wrapping things up. The big, obvious, question is what the heck is Wakefield going to do from here? He let fear of failing rule his decision to just vacate instead but he is consciously aware that what he is doing is unhealthy.
I enjoyed the movie a lot. This is the movie that has officially re-invigorated my appreciation for Bryan Cranston as an actor and I would certainly recommend this movie to others. I’ll have the video review up for you guys as soon as I get it back from the “editing team”.
That’s all for this one guys, I’m checking out til next time, peace!