The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews, is adapted from the novel of the same name by Richard Ford. Gyllenhaal plays Jerry, an out-of-work golf pro whose 1960s nuclear family is shaken when he goes to help fight a raging forest fire near the Canadian border, leaving his wife, Jeanette (Mulligan), in the position of keeping the household afloat.
Newcomer Ed Oxenbould plays Joe, the couple’s only child, who witnesses his mother’s efforts.
“I wanted to make a film for a long time,” Dano had told the Sundance audience gathered for his festival screening. “I was really moved by [Ford’s book], and I think something that he captured that I loved was the feeling that family is one of the greatest loves of our life. And because of that, it’s also one of the greatest sources of struggle and possibly pain in our life, and it’s because of love that we experience that pain. And so the compassion towards these sort of flawed parents, and witnessing that through the kid’s eyes, spoke to me.”
EW’s own Chris Nashawaty described Wildlife as “a quiet film that slowly reveals itself to be something far richer and more complex than it seems at first. It’s a slow burn with the force of a sucker punch.”
Dano adapted Wildlife for the screen with Zoe Kazan, while the cast is also populated by Bill Camp and Zoe Margaret Colletti.
The film opens in theaters on Oct. 19. Watch the trailer above.