A Family Disaster


The breakup of a family can be a crushing event, especially for a child watching it all happen. “Wildlife”, a new movie based on the novel by Richard Ford, shows a 14-year-old boy’s experience when his parents break up and how he handles the situation.

Joe Brinson (Ed Oxenbould) lives with his parents, Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Jeanette Brinson (Carey Mulligan), in Montana in the 1960s.

Jeanette decides that she wants to spend more time at home with Joe, but soon after she quits her job, her husband is fired. Jerry is offered his old job back, but he declines, saying that he doesn’t want to work for people who treated him badly.

Eventually finding a new job fighting a nearby wildfire, Jerry leaves his wife and son behind.

Devastated by this, and facing financial catastrophe, Joe’s mother begins to act irresponsibly, neglecting her family duties, jumping into an affair with Warren Miller (Bill Camp), the owner of a car dealership where Jeanette said she was going to work. Joe watches all of this unfold, unable to understand what is happening.

Due to his father’s absence and his mother’s carelessness, Joe is forced to become the man of the house. In addition to school, he now has a job at a photo shop and has to do most of the housekeeping.

“Wildlife” is an engrossing movie and I feel that anyone who’s experienced a family breakup can relate to it. For those who have not, it opens the door to a frightful ordeal that you will be thankful for having been spared.

There isn’t much action in this film, so it wouldn’t be very interesting for people who want explosions and car chases. There are some intense, deeply emotional scenes that I think make it unsuitable for children under 12.