Meadowland review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Meadowland is a well thought-out flick with filmmaking tendencies that stretch beyond your ordinary set-pieces and archetypal character schemes. In it exist humans with mostly monosyllabic names whose moral compasses outweigh their life decisions by far, making them turn into themselves and introspect their choices in a world full of grayed skies, buildings and even worn-out people. Add to that a meticulously lead cinematography by director Reed Morano and a stunningly real acting attempt by Olivia Wilde and you found yourselves a winner folks.
The film follows the lives of Phil (played by Luke Wilson) and Sarah (Olivia Wilde) whose relationship’s challenges deepen as they both find themselves unable to cope with what life had in plan for them both. As grief starts engulfing their everyday thoughts, it seems Sarah is the first one to break under pressure and Phil closely follows. What’s interesting in all that is their completely opposite way of dealing with loss that still keeps them bonded to each other, even when life around them slowly deteriorates to nothingness, slowly pulling them into the abyss and the never-ending cycle of self-blame and inner imbalance. And so, they move forward.
Meadowland is gorgeous to look at, poetic at times, proving that Reed Morano has indeed honed her craft well during her cinematography years. It’s always refreshing to see how masters do their work, a welcome change from the saturated superhero movie market that just refuses to die with dignity. Fortunately, little gems like Meadowland are that more enjoyable insofar the producers know what they’re actually doing.
The supporting cast of Meadowland is worthy of praise: Giovanni Ribisi as the former drug addict Tim who offers moral support for his brother Phil; at times, it seems only he can understand Phil’s lost cause which perpetuates his suffering. John Leguizamo is Pete – a guy who Phil meets in one of the support groups meetings but fails to understand his view on life; Elisabeth Moss plays Shannon – a foster parent who sees her kid slip further away from her hands as she desperately tries to right the wrongs in her life. Bottom line is: these characters feel real and we sympathize with their pain, which gets the screenplay a little more merit than what would otherwise happen.
Meadowland is a slow burner of a film; it flickers and spurs onto one’s conscience until all there’s left is a void from which one cannot escape, even if one tried to do so. The film doesn’t offer any grand revelations, or even final character resolutions – just like in real life. It is painful to see Sarah and Phil suffer, but it’s also kind of riveting to walk the same path as they do.
Meadowland offers the catharsis few other features do, and while at it: it makes sure that no one leaves unscathed.