TIFF 2016 Review: “Wakefield” (2016) ★★★★


How far would you go to see if your family can be happier without your presence? What would you do to see if the wife or a husband you left behind can move on if for some reason you disappeared? Howard Wakefield is the man that has everything he needs – a beautiful wife, two adorable children and the money to buy whatever he wants. But he is also extremely jealous and obsessed with his wife. One day, when he gets off the train, instead of home, he goes directly to the next house to watch her from the inside of it while he turns from a well-dressed and wealthy man to a homeless and painless human being…

Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston) one day decides to check himself out from the family. He clicks on the pause button and disappears from Diana (Jennifer Garner) and his children’s life. However, from the loft of the house, he amusingly starts watching her, like if he would watch a movie. Diana, of course, starts getting worried why her husband did not return home. But when she finds his car in the garage, she fears for the worse. That worse happens when days turns into weeks, weeks into months, and the whereabouts of Howard is still unknown.

As the story unfolds, and the physical transformation of Howard advances to a level where you hardly recognize him, Howard all of a sudden is disappointed that his beloved wife somehow managed to move on without him. Her sadness disappears. Her uneventful night is filled with her friend, Tom, whom she started dating. And Howard, he gets more sick not because of his unbeareable condition, but the idea that there is someone else in his wife’s life, and it’s not him…

Who is Howard Wakefield? A gamer? A jealous man? Or both? What is the main reason behind his eccentric action is something the viewer has to find out. But even after that there are way too many questions about the sanity of Howard, I am sure you will find interesting to discuss after you watch it. But what is also amazing about this film is the performance of Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner.

Brian Cranston delivers a multi-dimensional performance which can land him far more than one award. His physical transformation is impressive, and the way he voices every single dialogue his wife has over the phone or with her mother is something you would not like to hear anything else. In the meantime, Jennifer Garner plays one of the most unusual roles in her career, when through the silence she expresses Jennifer louder than any words. With the little dialogue she had, she achieves the unachievable in this refreshing black comedy.

In conclusion, Robin Swicord’s Wakefield is an absolutely stunning film from the start to the end. While the first part of it is more funny and entertaining, the second part becomes more dramatic and sad. As you try to figure out where else Howard will take himself in his life, one fact with him has always been obvious – that he would never distance himself from his wife and family if there was the slightest chance to repair a broken marriage. But whatever it is, one day he will have to find a way back home.But what will change his mind is something you will have to find out after seeing this brilliantly crafted film.

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