Meadowland – A powerful gut-punch of a film
Written by: Chris Rossi
Directed by: Reed Morano
Reed Morano is a cinematography goddess, in the indie world. From “Frozen River” to “The Skeleton Twins” she has certainly made a memorable mark, being behind the camera. As is the evolution of the industry, she makes her logical jump to directing with “Meadowland”. And, also not shockingly, she immediately goes full “Dark, depressing indie film” mode. Armed with a cast of incredibly talented performers, she (along with writer Chris Rossi) tackles the subject matter of a married couple’s lives falling apart after a devastating loss.
It doesn’t take long for the story to take shape in “Meadowland”. In the film’s first scene, we see Sarah (Wilde), Phil (Wilson), and their son Jessie (Casey Walker) on a family road trip. We aren’t given much time to get to know little Jessie, before he disappears from a gas station bathroom causing Sarah and Phil to go into full on panic mode.
Flash forward one year, and the two of them are, understandably, not coping well. Sarah is in a lithium induced haze of denial, and Phil is going to group therapy sessions and repeatedly visiting the scene of his son’s disappearance. Both actors pull of repressed agony and pain very well. Wilde especially is almost difficult to watch (in a good way) ,at times, as her character spirals into increasingly scary behavior patterns.
The edges of the movie are nicely rounded out by some strong (albeit brief) showings from Giovanni Ribisi, Juno Temple, and an almost unrecognizable Elisabeth Moss. The script throughout the film is sparse. Morano opts instead to let her actors eyes and their surroundings deliver the emotional impact. Her doing double duty as the director of photography works in her favor, as many of her trademark, intimate closeups on Wilde’s look of tormented anguish are what successfully amplify the film’s already heavy tone.
While “Meadowland” would not be my first recommendation for date night or a get together with friends, it is a good movie. I would just suggest you make sure you can handle 105 minutes of a movie that is very heavy, very sad, but very well-acted and well-produced. If nothing else, watch it if you want to see Olivia Wilde at the absolute top of her game.