Love, loss, tragedy and dramatic intrigue

Love, loss, tragedy and dramatic intrigue Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal in Wildlife

I was so taken with Wildlife (Netflix) I bought the book after seeing it. It’s written by Richard Ford, an author I wasn’t familiar with. It’s so beautifully written I went on a trawl for everything else by him afterwards. I urge you to check him out. He writes like Hemingway. I can think of no higher praise.

The film is equally fine. Telling the story of a man who inexplicably leaves his wife as forest fires rage over 1950s Montana it boasts bravura performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan as the hapless pair. Paul Dano’s direction is muted and eccentric. Its effect is doubled as a result.

This will blow you away with its restraint and evocativeness, especially the final frame. It’s really a film about lostness – the vacuum at the core of the American Dream – but told in such an unusual way (from the perspective of the couple’s teenage son) it becomes much more than that.


I’m sure the last thing you want at the moment is a film that reminds you of the horrible year we’ve just been through with Covid-19 but if you have the stomach for it you might like to rent out Songbird (VOD). It’s set in 2024 and explores the manner in which a handful of people have to navigate the crises of a pandemic, including lockdowns, martial law, crime and disease.

When a man sounds too good to be true he usually is. Michael Ealy in The Perfect Guy (Netflix) is anything but that.  After seeing him go ballistic one night on a flimsy pretext his girlfriend (Sanaa Latham) calls a halt on their relationship. By now the psychopathic Ealy has become obsessed with her. When she takes up with a man she’d been seeing before him he blows another gasket, going on a mission of destruction.

The film uses every cliché in the book to tell its tale of stalking, jealousy and murder. It’s hackneyed in the extreme but the tension is well controlled especially when Latham finds the gumption to turn the tables on her conniving ex-lover.

Finding love

Films about finding love in later life are usually more interesting than teenybopper romances. So it proves in I Got Life (Amazon), a French divertissement. Quirky 50-year-old Agnes Jaoui feels ‘l’amour’ has passed her by. Then she re-connects with a man she used to date as a young woman.  At first he says he’s uninterested in re-kindling their relationship but then things change.

I won’t tell you what happens in the closing scenes. Suffice to say this is a feelgood film with a big heart directed with aplomb by Blandine Lenoir and featuring a ‘Shirley Valentine’ style performance from Jaoui.

Pieces of a Woman (Netflix) deals with a theme all too rarely seen on our screens – the trauma a woman experiences after losing a child at birth. Here Vanessa Kirby’s problems are increased by a domineering mother and having to face her midwife in court.