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AnnJewel Lee Dixon
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Harrelson stars as Wilson, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope who reunites with his estranged wife (Laura Dern) and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter (Isabella Amara) he has never met. In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, he sets out to connect with her. Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Have you ever met a person that was always so negative; a complete narcissist; a complete nut case who goes about doing all the wrong things, and makes the worst life choices ever? Well, if you do know a person like that and want to compare them to someone else as neurotic, Wilson is the movie for you. Woody Harrelson plays the titular title character with as much pizazz and life as possible while being an inherently bleak as can be.
Harrelson's Wilson can best be described as the ultimate misanthrope. Nevermind Ebenezer Scrooge, Wilson is the real deal when it comes to pessimism. Taking the world with less than a grain of salt, Wilson tackles the world with the most obvious sense of negativity, blaming people and society for all that's gone wrong in his life, including his; love life, family life and most of all, all of his own quirks and habits. Don't believe us? Just pay close attention to one very short and emotionally draining scene where Wilson visits his father on his deathbed. Like so many cases after this scene, Wilson seeks for retribution and peace in all the wrong places and times.
Clearly the oddball in his almost picturesque Minnesota community, Wilson's world shakes and shatters upon the discovery that an old flame and frequent drug user Pippi (Laura Dern) decided to keep a child they had together, who later independently decided to put the girl up for adaption. Upon the discovery of Pippi, and some sort of hope that the once love would rekindle, Wilson takes it upon himself to find his daughter Claire (Isabella Amara) and the beautiful urban family who has taken the responsibility to raise Claire as their own. As expected, in the most distasteful and awkward way possible, Wilson, along with Pippi, make it a hobby to include themselves in Claire's life almost forcefully.
Having an almost crude and grimy way of connecting with humanity as a whole, Wilson makes good-intentioned decision to involve himself in Claire's life, until things begins to spiral out of control, in familiar Wilson-fashion, leading Wilson to state penitentiary.
Luckily for us, Harrelson, one of the most versatile and interesting actors working today, allows Wilson to be a very engaging and interesting character film, focusing on the ideas of longing and loneliness. While we were fortunate enough to have the film written by Daniel Clowes, the original author of which the graphic novel the film is based off of, and Craig Johnson, director of the totally off-beat but satisfying tragic comedy The Skeleton Twins, Clowes and Johnson are able to keep the spunkiness of the almost two hour film somewhat light, keeping its flowing characters in serious need of redemption mostly entertaining and engaging.
Do not get it twisted, Wilson is a very dark and comedic film, just not dark in the sense that depression and pill popping may ensue after. While Clowes has a knack of making really funny situations and characters depressing and almost unchangeable, Wilson does progress towards a satisfying yet, in its own way, Hollywood ending. While I did long for a more in-depth look or analysis of Wilson's relationship with his father, it never comes.
While Wilson showcases the many levels and various temperaments of a very flawed and almost unlikable character, by the end of the film, one cannot help to kinda/sorta fall in love with Wilson. There is an illustrious comedic poignancy of the man who barely reaps the benefits of all of life's wonderful yet disillusioning obstacles. Decorated with slight glimpses of retribution for our beloved inane character, the world in which Wilson longs for is one that is slightly unattainable, yet charmingly whimsical.
Harrelson is an actor that can pretty well play anything and anyone. Slap on a pair of thick framed glasses, a shaggy silver-laced beard and Harrelson nails all of the nuances of a impulsive man for whom bell tolls for on a daily basis, blowing up everything and everyone in his crazy and directionless path.
Luckily for Clowes and Johnson (the original author of the source material and director) were able to assembler a quite impressive cast for a Sundance and indie darling. With the likes of Harrelson, Dern, Cheryl Hines and Judy Greer, giving a well needed spunk and kick in the ass to a somewhat joyless narrative, despite some uncomfortably appealing scenes of Wilson within a school playground and pet shop parking lot.
Overall, Wilson may probably not be your most beloved feature of 2017, nor will it be your most memorable. Luckily for us, art is always a reflection of the images we see on screen, and if there is anything Wilson does well, its reminding us that there is light at the end of the tunnel; and no matter how bad things may end up looking or really are, hope, happiness and redemption is always in store, just don't squander on the opportunities once they becomes apparent.
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