Wakefield

I was bewildered by the situation that I had created for myself

Year Released : 2016

Director : Ryan Swicord

Cast : Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Garner and Jason O’Mara

“Wakefield” has been on my “to watch” list for quite some time and has one of the more unique concepts that I can recall from the world of movies. It is very rare that I come across a film which seems relatively unique and for that I applaud any film, regardless of whether it is good or not.

It is far too easy to copy someone else’s ideas, even if only on a minor part. I must admit that one of the driving forces behind me choosing to watch lesser known films is that there tends to be more original ideas and far less rip offs. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say that they’re good, so we’ll see how this works out.

Bryan Cranston is also an actor that will feature in my bottom ten at the end of the year as things stand, and “The Infiltrator” only reached number 48 in my top 100 last year so it’ll be interesting to see if he puts out a decent film for once. His roles on “Breaking Bad” and “Malcolm In The Middle” prove that he has talent, but his film choices are often suspect.

Plot

Howard is on his way home from work when his train breaks down. He walks home and notices a raccoon, chasing it away into the garage. Going into the attic he notices that he can see into his house from there and he observes his family having dinner. He recalls a recent argument with his wife Diana (Garner) about her allegedly flirtation with another man and then decides to stay in the attic, avoiding another argument. He wakes the next morning and realises that he isn’t interested in an argument about where he was, and he returns to the attic with the food his Diana had resigned to the trash the night before.

After Diana leaves for work he goes into the house and eats some food, but soon comes to the theory that they simply weren’t meant to be together. He takes some more provisions and returns to the attic. Soon after he sees a newscast that has declared him a missing person.

As time goes on Howard has to come up with more inventive ways in which to hide, all whilst remembering key moments from his relationship with his wife and kids. Howard begins to regret his continued self-imposed isolation, especially as winter comes around.

 

 

So has Branston actually made a decent film?

 

“Wakefield” is a film with a unique concept and this is by far a one-man show as in reality you could easily replace anyone else in it and not really notice, but the problem with the film is that it is ultimately a bit dull.

Going on for a very tedious 110 minutes, “Wakefield” moves at the pace of a snail. Minutes go by with nothing interesting happens, other than Howard narrating the world around him. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it actually felt like it had some direction to it and whilst you are never quite bored, there is a solid 45 minutes, possibly even an hour, where nothing at all seems to happen to progress the story.

Had this film been about 80 or so minutes then I would probably be giving it a far more positive review, but there is just so much filler in this film that after a while it starts feeling pretentious. Long and drawn out monologues soon start losing their impact as you’re waiting for the story to actually move along.

I would take a guess that the film takes place over the course of around nine or ten months based on hair and facial hair growth, and I refuse to believe that three members of a family would only go in their garage once or twice a year. In a film full of unlikely scenarios, including one point in which his wife looks directly at him from only a few feet away and doesn’t recognise him, people not going in their garage for that long is one of the most unbelievable.

The film is presented in a unique way as Cranston is basically narrating what is happening in the outside world, almost in a documentary way, but the problem is that he is an unreliable narrator and whilst the angle about him getting paranoid is quite intriguing in some ways, the lack of a major back up character is a big issue. Ultimately the character of Howard just isn’t interesting enough to carry a movie that is just shy of two hours long.

Anyone going into the movie expecting Jennifer Garner to be a major part of the film is in for a disappointment as other than in the few flashback scenes, she doesn’t really have anything to do.

I don’t really have too much else to say about this film and that is so disappointing considering how relatively promising it seemed from the trailer.

Summary

Pretentious, at least half an hour too long and lack any real impact, “Wakefield” is a big disappointment. It wouldn’t bother me so much if there was actually a feeling that the movie was progressing, but it doesn’t.

There is nothing wrong with the acting, but even the best actor in the world couldn’t improve on what is basically just under two hours of a dull character in constant monologue mode.

An interesting concept that wasn’t realised.

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