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01 Aug 2017

Home Video Review: 'Wakefield' Works Due to a Fantastic Performance by Bryan Cranston

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Bryan Cranston in Wakefield. Bryan Cranston in Wakefield.

In Wakefield, Bryan Cranston plays Howard Wakefield, a dude who comes home one night, chases a raccoon into a room above his garage, and decides to stay there for a while … a long while.

After a rough stretch with his wife (Jennifer Garner) and a dissatisfying time at work, Howard is feeling a little underappreciated. The room over his garage seems like a good sanctuary for a few hours, a place where he can take inventory of things before returning to his routine. He can see his family having dinner through the window. Then he sees his wife throw his dinner in the garbage can. Something breaks inside of him.

Cut to a bearded, disheveled Howard many months later; he’s rummaging through garbage cans for food and peeing in bottles, Howard Hughes-style. He’s taken up residence in the apartment above the garage like Fonzie in Happy Days, and nobody knows he’s there. Much to his bemusement, life goes on in his household, to the point where the family still goes on vacation and puts up a Christmas tree.

Cranston is very good here. He occupies the majority of the movie; most of it is just him staring through a window and thinking to himself. The movie goes off the rails a bit in the final act when Howard befriends some neighbor kids, but that doesn’t take away from the power of Cranston’s work.

Overall, Wakefield is an interesting observation on what would happen if we decided to switch off our phones and sit in a quiet room for a spell. Would you find yourself? Would you lose everything? Would you have a better understanding of that raccoon living off your trash? Take in the Cranston performance, and then check that storage room for any squatters.

Wakefield is available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com

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