Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 1hr 45m
Paul Dano, best known for playing Eli in There Will Be Blood, pulls off an astonishing directorial debut with this hard-hitting drama.
Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) have just moved with their son Joe (Ed Oxenbould) to Great Falls, a scenic town in the untamed Montana countryside. After Jerry loses his job at a prestigious golf club, he hopes to find renewed purpose by tackling a forest fire on the Canadian border, even though the work is menial and poorly paid. In his absence, Jeanette becomes unstable, starts meeting with an older man and has strange, uninhibited conversations with her son. With no explanation for his parents’ dysfunctional behaviour, the meek and overly-agreeable Joe must grow up fast or face the disintegration of his family.
Gyllenhaal is understated and inscrutable throughout and thus provides the perfect foil for Mulligan, who delivers a powerhouse performance as the emotionally labile Jeanette. It is Dano’s direction, however, that really stands out. Not only does he bring the 1960s to life. He also uses breath-taking cinematography to transform the rugged Montana landscape into yet another character, its wildness reflecting the disorder that constantly threatens Joe’s happiness.