Wildlife (film)

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Wildlife film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Dano
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onWildlife
by Richard Ford
Music byDavid Lang
CinematographyDiego García
Edited by
  • Matt Hannam
  • Lou Ford
Distributed byIFC Films
Release date
  • January 20, 2018 (2018-01-20) (Sundance)
  • October 19, 2018 (2018-10-19) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.2 million[2]

Wildlife is a 2018 American drama film directed by Paul Dano and co-written by Dano and Zoe Kazan. It is based on the novel of the same name by Richard Ford first published in 1990. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ed Oxenbould, and Bill Camp; it is Dano's directorial debut. The film was acclaimed by critics, with many praising Mulligan and Gyllenhaal's performances.

The film had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018.[3] It was released in the United States on October 19, and in the United Kingdom on November 9, 2018.


The film is set in 1960. Jeannette and Jerry Brinson have recently moved to Great Falls, Montana with their teenage son Joe. Tensions build after Jerry is fired from a job as a golf pro at a country club. He is offered his old job back but refuses out of pride, and instead takes a low-paying job fighting a forest fire raging in nearby mountains.[4][5][6]

While Jerry is away, Jeannette takes a job as a swimming instructor, and becomes romantically involved with one of her students, Warren Miller, a prosperous older man who owns an automobile dealership. She does not hide her affair from her son but instead flaunts it, "as if she needed Joe to understand just how unhinged her married life has finally made her."[4]

Jerry returns and their marriage disintegrates, with Joe staying with Jerry while Jeannette moves to Oregon.




In July 2016, it was announced that Paul Dano would adapt Richard Ford's novel with a script he had co-written with Zoe Kazan, and that neither Dano nor Kazan would act in the film.[7] Dano said, "in Richard’s book I saw myself and many others. I have always wanted to make films—and have always known I would make films about family."[8] He has also said that this is the first in a series of films he wants to make about dysfunctional families.[9] The film was produced by June Pictures and Nine Stories Productions.[10]

In September 2016, it was announced that Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan would star in the film.[10] American composer David Lang wrote the score.


Principal photography took place in Montana and Oklahoma (due to concerns with the winter weather in Montana).[11]


The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018.[12][13] Shortly after, IFC Films acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film.[14] It screened at the Cannes Film Festival on May 9, 2018.[15] It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2018,[16][17] the New York Film Festival on September 30, 2018,[18] the Woodstock Film Festival on October 13, 2018, and the New Orleans Film Festival on October 18, 2018.[19] Wildlife was released in the United States on October 19, 2018.[20]


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 108 reviews, and an average rating of 7.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Wildlife's portrait of a family in crisis is beautifully composed by director Paul Dano -- and brought brilliantly to life by a career-best performance from Carey Mulligan."[21] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[22]

New York Times critic Glenn Kenny called Wildlife a "superb film," calling it "a domestic drama both sad and terrifying." Kenny praised the cast for "exceptional" acting, and said that Mulligan "gives the best performance of any I’ve seen in film this year." He called Oxenbould "an exciting find" and praised the direction and cinematography.[4]

Writing for RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, saying, "This is an accomplished, moving piece of filmmaking, one that cares about its characters and trusts its performers. It comes from a relatively old school of dramatic storytelling but it connects emotionally because of Dano’s tender but confident work and what he’s able to draw from two of the best performers of their generation."[23] Variety's Owen Gleiberman called Dano "a natural-born filmmaker, with an eye for elegant spare compositions that refrain from being too showy" and gave the film 4 out of 5 stars.[24]

David Edelstein, writing for Vulture gave the film full marks, calling the film "superb", saying "[Dano] gives his actors space so that the rhythms are their own, and they hold us through the tough final scenes and bittersweet ending."[25] The Guardian's Jordan Hoffman gave the film three stars out of five, saying "It is a quiet, subtle story and, as is so often the case when an actor takes their first trip behind the camera, a showcase for terrific performances."[26]


  1. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (January 20, 2018). "Sundance Film Review: 'Wildlife'". Variety. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  2. ^ "Wildlife (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  3. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 29, 2017). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Kenny, Glenn (October 18, 2018). "Review: In 'Wildlife,' Passions Run Rampant". New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  5. ^ "Jake Gyllenhaal & Carey Mulligan Play Estranged Couple In Wildlife". Movie News Guide. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  6. ^ Nolfi, Joey (August 2, 2016). "Paul Dano adapting Richard Ford's Wildlife for feature directorial debut". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  7. ^ McNary, Dave (July 29, 2016). "Paul Dano to Make Directorial Debut With Indie Drama 'Wildlife'". Variety. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  8. ^ Smith, Nigel (September 23, 2016). "Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan to star in Paul Dano's Wildlife". The Guardian. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  9. ^ Maniglia, Valentin. "THE SOUND OF CANNES #1". magazine.scoreit.org. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Pedersen, Erik (September 23, 2016). "Jake Gyllenhaal & Carey Mulligan Star In 'Wildlife', Paul Dano's Directing Debut". Deadline. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  11. ^ Asher, Sally (October 28, 2016). "Movie to be partially filmed in Enid". enidnews.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  12. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 29, 2017). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  13. ^ Hayes, Eric (January 21, 2018). "Day 3: Carey Mulligan Embarks on a Frantic Search for Meaning in Paul Dano's 'Wildlife'; Lakeith Stanfield Stars in a Delightful Oddity". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  14. ^ Hipes, Patrick (February 12, 2018). "Paul Dano's 'Wildlife' Acquired By IFC Films After Sundance Bow". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  15. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (April 16, 2018). "'Wildlife' With Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan to Headline Cannes Critics' Week". Variety. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  16. ^ Vlessing, Etan (July 24, 2018). "Toronto: Timothee Chalamet Starrer 'Beautiful Boy,' Dan Fogelman's 'Life Itself' Among Festival Lineup". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  17. ^ "Wildlife". Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  18. ^ "Wildlife". New York Film Festival. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  19. ^ "Wildlife | New Orleans Film Society". neworleansfilmsociety.org. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  20. ^ Erbland, Kate (July 23, 2018). "'Wildlife': First-Time Filmmaker Paul Dano on How Zoe Kazan Helped Him Make His Passion Project". IndieWire. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  21. ^ "Wildlife (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  22. ^ "Wildlife Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  23. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "Wildlife Movie Review & Film Summary (2018) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  24. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (January 21, 2018). "Film Review: 'Wildlife'". Variety. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  25. ^ Edelstein, David. "Wildlife Is Superb — and a Major Moment for Carey Mulligan". Vulture. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  26. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (January 22, 2018). "Wildlife review - Carey Mulligan plays flirtatious under big skies in Paul Dano's directorial debut". the Guardian. Retrieved October 17, 2018.

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