The maker of Love & Mercy again explores family dynamics through musical siblings in un-chronological fashion in what touches on guilt, acceptance and redemption.
Dreaming Wild stars Casey Affleck, Noah Jupe and Zooey Deschanel from the New York Times article Fruitland by Stern Kurtz.
In 2011 Affleck’s Don and Goggins’ Joe Emerson are upstanding working-class guys in the Pacific Northwest after having a chance at teens stardom from their bluesy mellow, soul’pop sound back in the late 70s. Joe was the drummer behind Don’s more leading presence, including the arranger, with hairstyles and clothing reminiscent of The Osmonds, for example.
The floundering eponymous record ( with Noah Jupe and Jack Dylan Grazer registering nicely as the younger Don and Joe) put Joe in the employ of pop Don Sr.’s (Beau Bridges) diminishing farm. Don runs a recording studio with long-suffering wife Nancy (Zooey Deschanel) as they play at weddings and other gigs as a cover band.
The brothers’ lives converge again when Chris Messina’s open-hearted indie record label exec Matt Sullivan delivers news that can lead to a Seattle performance as the old album has become a viral sensation and more media exposure awaits. Scribe/director Bill Pohlad realizes the conflict in where the brothers are now and have been with moments of the younger alongside their older counterparts. Even if certain talents have gotten pretty rusty, but a dormant genius starts to awaken.
Perhaps more stoically rendered than the riveting depiction of Brian Wilson at two stages of his life and maybe more sentimentally filled in its closures, Dreamin’ Wild remains rather affecting and creative, especially in the rehearsal process. It can reach a high note even at the conclusion with a union of the recreation and real-life Don, Joe and Nancy.
Affleck and Goggins manage genuine streaks in their characters, from the melancholy to the world-weary in their particular strife while an undervalued Deschanel displays enough sparkle. And, Bridges (who shine opposite brother Jeff in The Fabulous Baker Boys) is finely understated as the compassionate, simple man who built a studio for his kids back in the day on the farm. Even if the leads aren’t well known and its rhythms may not gel that well, it’s hard not to empathize with nearly everyone except an exploitative producer in a low-budgeter brewing with warmth and humanity.