Rated: R for language, a scene of strong sexuality and some drug use. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: October 16, 2015 Released by: Cinedigm
Another film about parental grief is a cut above "Cake" (with Jennifer Aniston) with lenser Reed Morano (Frozen River) taking on directorial duties for the first time uses metaphors (as well as visual techniques) to illustrate disparate shades of loneliness in the Big Apple.
Meadowland has a kindred spirit with other with non-thriller dramas like Rabbit Hole and In The Bedroom but doesn't share their cohesion and subtlety, at least from a narrative standpoint (newcomer Chris Rossi wrote the screenplay). Not to say there isn't a modicum of complexity within its commonality from the loss of a child (within the first few minutes after using a service-station restroom).
Olivia Wilde (The Words, the upcoming Love The Coopers) is the linchpin of a somewhat impressionistic tale that has pain often overwhelming the palliative without going the route of
something like an undervalued Prisoners.
What haunts Wilde's high-school English teacher Sarah and beat-cop husband Phil (a quietly impassioned Luke Wilson) manifests itself in different ways from deserting bereavement church
hall sessions or in a somnolent state relying on liquor and lithium (in a kind of illuminated buzz). Since the ordinary grind has changed without the focus on their son (played by Morano's real-life kid) detachment, disorientation and a sense of closure is felt around the two as both have meandered (like the story itself) in separate ways (Sarah's conviction that her child hasn't left this world, for example, when dealing with students with Asperger's/ an elephant fixation or self-mutilation). Morano really enforces the close-ups around Times Square with a nomadic Sarah in a shiny yellow hoodie that suggests a strong, almost spiritual aura.
From the palpable internalization of strife by a vividly committed Wilde, an edgy cathartic expression is encapsulated in some minute details to underline the lasting conflict. Maybe Phil's part of Meadowland contrasts less persuasively (or urgently) than Sarah's more intricate one with the climax having more of a contrived nature to it. But, around the honest debilitating sorrows elicited by Wilde and Wilson, smaller, if beneficial backup arises from a variety of experienced thespian talent like John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Moss, and Juno Temple. As well as Phil's addled, irresponsible brother Tim, filled with camouflaged, numbing disquietude by Giovanni Ribisi (Ted 2, Selma) notably evident up on a roof.