This beautifully made and meticulously acted period film is a stunning directorial debut for paul dano, and a triumph for his mckenzie-like production designer and cinematographer diego garcia, who create some spare tableaus. beautiful scenes of post-war American life.
Together with his partner, screenwriter/actress Zoe Kazan, Dano has adapted Richard Ford’s novel about Joe, a teenager who has moved to a small town in 1950s Montana with his parents. they’re on the elegant middle-class poverty line, living paycheck to paycheck, then paycheck to no paycheck. When Joe’s father, disturbingly angry and unemployed, leaves to take a low-paying job fighting wildfires in the hills, it ambiguously signals the end of the marriage, and Joe is the intimate witness to his mother’s private depression, Jeanette. , and his courage to face his new life options.
She treats him like an adult, or a surrogate husband, or a best friend, and he is poignantly admitted to what writer Betty Friedan would later call “female mystique.” he and we see a gradual change in her: she goes from being the cheerful and respectable wife and mother he is used to seeing around the house, to the sultry and rebellious young woman her father originally fell in love with. but all this in a spirit of quiet desperation and caricature, as he begins to weigh what it means to accept the advances of a wealthy and good-humoured car salesman and war veteran whose own wife has left him.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Jerry Brinson, the father, a man who appears permanently gaunt and exhausted, deeply dismayed by his inability to master the American dream or Dale Carnegie-style tricks for popularity and social advancement. when we first see him at work, he appears to be an attendant at the local golf course, but seems to have misjudged how up close and personal he is expected to be, actually cleaning the members’ shoes as they wear them, a servility embarrassing that collides with their cheerful greetings and farewells.
ed oxenbould plays joe, a role that requires what might be considered a series of silent reaction shots, his angelic face often set in a sadly repressed grimace as he impassively assesses his father’s humiliation and depression and his father’s disappointment. the life of his mother jeanette . Jeanette is enthusiastically played by Carey Mulligan. It’s one of the best roles and performances of her career, giving her the chance to show maturity, wit, intelligence and the emotional scars of life’s battle, and moving her away from the rather childish image she’s often been cast in. been confined. .
She is a fighter, a smiler, who never says die, but only as long as her husband is prepared to do his part. We see her nonchalantly turn down a check that has bounced in the bank and, through her persistence, land a job as a swim instructor at the ymca, a job that allows her to become socially acquainted with a certain adult student, her wannabe. .. Beau, the portly and opulent Warren Miller, played by Bill Camp. once jerry leaves the scene, she invites jeanette and joe to dinner at her house. Joe walks into her room while the adults are talking, and she finds Warren’s leg caliper hanging horribly in the closet and an equally horrific contraceptive in his nightstand drawer. As the relationship continues, it’s Joe who has to go to school, get his own meals, and wonder what her role will be in this new fractured family.
It’s a very pleasant film to watch, beautiful and even lavishly decorated in its austere evocation of small-town America, though perhaps a little self-conscious in its emotional wound. perhaps joe’s own character is his flaw, required to give us nothing but speechless dismay or acceptance of everything that’s going on. His face is often seen in silent close-up, but the film doesn’t give us the kind of access to his feelings that we get with Jerry or Jeanette. Joe, by the way, works part-time as an assistant to a portrait photographer in the city, and Dano periodically provides us with very well-observed stills of clients’ harrowing family portraits – an effect of bourgeois aspiration that has been used in the past. secrets and secrets of mike leigh. lies and paul thomas anderson is the master. dano has given us a satisfying drama of damaged lives.