Meadowland
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Meadowland

For parent there is nothing worse than not knowing that your child is. Even if you just side of them for a few moments life stops and doesn’t begin again until your child is back in your arms. Because this is such a visceral emotion and truly universal unchanged by any boundaries of time or nationality, that is understandably found its way to a myriad of books, films and even television shows. Typically such a story focuses on initial search for the child in the emotional turmoil suffered by the parents of the authorities and neighbors frantically search to return your child to them. Made around in the independent festival circuit and was met with resounding praise. ‘Meadowland’, represents the epitome of why independent film is so important to maintaining the integrity of cinema is an artistic form expression. It is the kind of story that mainstream movie studios would never consider and yet it possesses insights into the human condition that are deeply moving and profound with its impact on the audience. Superficially it’s in moving about young couple whose only child suddenly disappears. Skipping past the frantic search needs most of the nation of fear, anger and loss moving right to one year after the last time they saw their son.

I was mesmerized by this film finding myself watching it several times over. With each viewing I was able to concentrate on level of development imparted to the characters. One of the main reasons such new insights is given with each successive viewing that the emotions explored in this movie so interwoven with everything that makes us human is inevitable that it will trigger a different response every time you experience the story. I haven’t seen any published figures regarding its budget but as a longtime friend of independent movies I’m reasonably certain that the working budget was minuscule in the usually overlooked talent of the filmmaker is how he is able to make every single penny count and craft such a story was such an intense impact that by the end of the film find yourself emotionally drained. The movie has an all-star cast with highly recognizable names even in the smallest supporting role in it is certain that these talented performers the not the mandate usual salaries but contributed their time and abilities for the love of the project.

The film begins with the scene that we of all participated in one time or another; family outing in the car. The father, Phil (Luke Wilson) is behind the wheel while his wife Sarah (Olivia Wilde) is sitting beside him. In the back is there son, Jesse (Casey Walker) was about 10 years old cheerfully chatting with his parents while munching on a snack of cereal. He mentions that he stirs the human but some milk so small that horse over to the nearest convenience store as his parents browsed the store the child goes into the bathroom. This is such an innocent situation one that any of us could easily find themselves in without being overly concerned. When it’s time to go the call for the boy through the door but there is no answer. The clerk opens the door for them into their holiday the bathrooms empty. There is another entrance of the bathroom to allow access to the garage behind this convenience store but the mechanic was not there at the moment. Story precipitously halts picking up about a year later Sarah and Phil having dinner with their friends Kelly (Merritt Wever) and Rob (Mark Feuerstein). Sarah seems to be in a jovial mood which may be attributed to the large quantity of wine she has been consuming. Phil expresses his concerns to Rob that her behavior is risky considering she’s on lithium. Like every scene in this film this one is ideally laid out to allow the audience a glimpse of how this couple difference in the radii handling the situation. Both the respondent but fail of these tries to talk to his friend while Sarah deflects her feelings to intoxication and forth fill attempts at humor. During the cab ride home dark silence shrouds the couple. Later while watching television Phil tell Sarah that he has received an email from his brother Tim (Giovanni Ribisi) was coming to stay with them for a little while. We both agreed that he is a mess, unable to take care of himself. Phil is in the New York City Police Department while Sarah is an English teacher in middle school. It is possible that at least one factor for why they differ so radically in dealing with the tragedy is that Phil is forced to be out in the world helping other people to solve their problems while Sarah is confronted daily with the classroom of children around the same age of her son. An example of Thursday is given when he is sent to working on a noise complaint in the apartment house. When he gets there loud music is booming through the door which is open by a young woman, Mackenzie (Juno Temple). She is arguing with her boyfriend, Jason (Scott Mescudi) who Phil orders to go to the other room while he talks of the young woman. She’s willing a sweatshirt with a pot leaf on it and nonchalantly tries to hide the bong is still sits down to talk to her. Within minutes into the conversation she tries to hit on asking if he has a girlfriend. This is one of those scenes whose meaning the change with each viewing but in every case but give insight into what’s going on in Phil’s mind.

Sarah is becoming more distant to all students at school, zoning out teaching lessons. Take advantage of the particularities of the subject, Sarah is able to have a student read a poem and avoid any teaching responsibilities by deferring to the students to analyze it. Sarah notices a girl in her class, Alma (Eden Duncan-Smith), listening to music. He takes the earbud from the child and listens, much to her surprise its heavy metal. Sarah notices a boy was being picked on by other students when she inquiries about him with another teacher she learns that he is a special needs child who self-isolating with neglectful parents. He often forgets to bring a lunch of his mother drops by school is inevitably fried chicken. Sarah approaches the child, Adam (Ty Simpkins) despite his reluctance to interact she does manage to communicate with only to discover that he is fixated on elephants has been trying to steal a book from the library to expand his knowledge of them. It turns out that Adam has Asperger’s syndrome and is on medication but is obviously not receiving the proper attention at home.

Substance of the film is in the rate the filmmakers able to bring you into the minds of these two characters, Sarah and Phil. At night Sarah puts on her yellow hoodie and wanders around the streets of New York writing aimlessly in the subways. Phil has joined a self-help group for parents who have lost a child becomes friends with one of its members, Pete (John Leguizamo), who is an advocate of the helpfulness of the program and tries his best to help Phil get the most he possibly can out of it. Sharp contrast Sarah is spiraling into increasingly dangerous situations including stalking Adam’s parents, Shannon (Elizabeth Moss) and Joe (Kevin Corrigan). Sarah contrives a running into Shannon at a convenience store where she is unable to pay for her purchases. Sarah offers to include the purchase Shannon reluctantly agrees to. Shannon tries to interest Sarah in some vitamin supplement business that she’s into the no avail. Later she wants a meeting Joe and after a trial of an anonymous assignation he steers his car in order to kidnap Adam. At this point she has already taken himself off the medication and after noticing that Alma was a cutter Sarah begins taking a razor blade to own forearm.

Nothing sudden happens in this film; no big defining moment in the rate that life unfolds the lives of these two people have been reduced to a series of events that continued to bombard them exacerbating their grief. Not only does Sarah dump all of her medications down the sink when she finds Pete doing drugs takes a hit of the powerful psychedelic, DMT, that he was smoking. She is desperate for anything that can take away from the pain if only for a brief moment. While Phil was trying his best to work through things opening up to people in the group and trying to keep the lines of communication with his wife open, Sarah continues to sink deeper and deeper into the psychological quagmire of pain has become a life.

All of the performances here are superb but special accolades must be afforded to Ms. Wilde. She is one of the most beautiful women of her generation and has gotten roles that reflect that indisputable fact. This film clearly demonstrates that her career will have longevity throughout the inevitable passing of time. All of the scenes were performed with little if any makeup and then only of the purpose necessitated by the demands of filming. She purposely assumes the tired look of a woman stripped of all vitality, so numbed by this unthinkable tragedy that she is desperate anything that will force her to feel. Even the pain of slicing her own flesh or the degrading act of sex with a stranger is preferable to the unyielding sense of longing hat has consumed the last vestiges of her humanity. This is a difficult film to watch, regardless of whether or not you have children. The script by Chris Rossi, direction and incredibly moving cinematography by Reed Morano create a synergistic marvel that will reignite your love of film, reaffirming your appreciation of the power cinema wields to induce an emotional response. What matters is not the dark nature of those feelings, they are an integral part of the physiological and emotional components that but are the essence of humanity but the somber elegance is an experience that needs to be felt and fully appreciated.

Posted 02/03/2016

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