Wakefield Movie Review

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I don’t have much to say in this portion of the review. I didn’t know, well, anything about this movie until a few days ago. All I knew was that it is based on a short story. I love Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner. I’m not sure I ever imagined them on-screen in a relationship, but life is full of surprises. Let’s talk about Wakefield!

Wakefield is directed by Robin Swicord and stars Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner. Howard Wakefield, played by Bryan Cranston, has taken it upon himself to move from his house right into his attic to escape his distant marriage. When his family has no idea where he is, he begins to examine his relationship with them as well as how his disappearance affects them. The longer he waits, the more he realizes that things will never be able to go back to the way they were before he left, and he is only delaying an awkward reintroduction with freezing nights and garbage can meals.

It’s never an unpleasant surprise to see a Bryan Cranston movie in your email inbox when you didn’t even know it was coming. Despite having more diversity in his filmography than one would expect, I think Cranston is relatively consistent in his choices of roles, and I typically like his movies. When I haven’t heard about a film I typically try to hold my expectations in check, but one thing I knew that I could hope for was a great Bryan Cranston performance. Bryan Cranston is really great in this movie, and his performance kept me hooked. This is an odd character study of a man in a marriage that isn’t working its best because he is set in his own ways and doesn’t always take the most ethical approach to certain situations, and Cranston brought out the bits and pieces of oddity and insanity that he needed to to make the film work. I found most of the film fascinating as it peered into the psyche of a man who was so consumed with himself and his beliefs that he made himself disappear so that he could relish in the sadness of his departure. I think it’s an interesting way to look at selfishness as well as the lengths humans may be wiling to go to for reassurance and a reinforced sense of self-importance. I also think that this is a cautionary tale of, again, self-righteousness. The audience looks at this man and sees someone who has ruined his marriage because of his refusal to accept any beliefs or practices that aren’t his own. I also loved the direction of the film. Wakefield seems to be directed and scored as a thriller, but really it’s a character study drama. The director of Wakefield actually wrote it as well, so I’m sure she had ideas of what she would be going for, but it still feels like a fascinating way to tell this story because it is, in a sense, a real thriller. Not many people are going to go up against a serial murderer in their lifetimes, but many people will face marital issues, which can be terrifying in itself. I think the direction and the score perfectly captured that feeling, and I loved the approach.

I think my main issue with this movie was the characters. We completely understand their motivations, but I never completely felt like the actions of the main character were justified or warranted. In fact, he’s a very difficult-to-like narcissist with lots of overbearing opinions of self-importance. The only reason that this movie exists is to showcase this man and his selfishness, so I never really had anybody to cheer for. It’s not just that he’s relatively unlikable or flat. He’s downright despicable and full of himself. This also makes the story a bit thin. I think that a lot of the story is reduced down to this unjustified character, and it weakens much of the narrative. There is definitely a strong display of monologue writing, but it does end up gelling into the character’s selfishness.

Overall, Bryan Cranston gives a great performance in this character study that compelled me far more than it should have. Cranston’s performance and the direction are the two reasons this movie actually becomes interesting. I loved that the film was directed and scored like a thriller, but it’s actually a drama. I think that’s one of the main reasons that this movie became as watchable as it was. In some ways, I think that this story that could be considered a drama became a thriller through things that complicate real-world relationships like marital issues, so it worked and fit. My main issue with this movie is that the character is so entertained by his sense of self-importance that I had nobody to cheer for, but the oddity, Cranston’s performance, and the direction all give this movie enough to make it interesting. I’m going to give Wakefield a 6.3/10.

Will you be checking out Wakefield? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it’s Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm