2016 TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL: Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston) is a middle-aged, suburban-living man who has always lived by the rules. Until one day, shortly after a fight with his wife Diana (Jennifer Garner), he decides to make a life-changing decision and vanish from sight. Staying in the room above his garage, he is able to
keep an eye on his family, never actually abandoning them. Howard is a very jealous, controlling and imaginative man who compulsively spies on his gorgeous wife. He begins to learn more about himself and the lack of relationship he has with both her and their twin daughters.
Robin Swicord (nominated for her screenplay adaptation of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) is at the helm of “Wakefield,” a peculiar and odd little film adapted from E.L. Doctorow’s short story. Cranston is fantastic and clever with the role, carrying the oftentimes silent film through effective mannerisms over his narration. His character, however, is an unlikable and cruel person, often taking joy in his wife’s suffering as he makes a game of his disappearance. It is hard to feel any sympathy for him until he reaches a revelation that his family is happier without him, and that it is his own fears, rather than his desire to live without rules, that drove him to vanish. He sees that he has lost his family along the way. And a man ignored by his family is a man who has already vanished entirely.
“Wakefield” is quirky and fun once you allow yourself to get past the self-centered titular character, and Cranston fans will certainly want to seek it out whenever they can find it.
“Wakefield” is produced by Dominion Pictures and Mockingbird Pictures, and is still seeking distribution. It will play again in Toronto next week. There is no current release date for the film.
No trailer yet for “Wakefield.”