A midcentury marriage goes up in flames.
For his directorial debut, Paul Dano has made “a quiet film that slowly reveals its power and complexity,” said Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly. Just 34, Dano “has been one of our most interesting actors for a while now,” and his adaptation of a Richard Ford novel achieves a familiar, “understated magic.” Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan co-star as a 1960s married couple who drift apart when Gyllenhaal’s Jerry loses the job he’s moved his family to Montana for. “Both actors are great, but it’s Mulligan who really sticks with you.” Her Jeanette is a former beauty queen who, as she begins worrying about providing for her 14-year-old son, “starts coldly testing her abilities to see what she’s capable of,” said Inkoo Kang in Slate.com. When Jerry leaves to fight a wildfire, Jeanette begins flirting with a wealthy older man—often in front of her sad-eyed boy (Ed Oxenbould). Mulligan, we soon learn, “can say more by just tensing her neck than most actors can with a lengthy soliloquy,” said Glenn Kenny in The New York Times. “It is mesmerizing to watch the character struggle with the question of whether or not she is entitled to her rage before she gives in to it—and finds that doing so gives her no satisfaction.” ■