Film Review: WILSON (USA 2016) ***

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wilson.jpgDirector: Craig Johnson
Writers: Daniel Clowes (graphic novel), Daniel Clowes (screenplay)
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Sandy Oian, Shaun Brown

Review by Gilbert Seah

Woody Harrelson had a supporting role of a neurotic teacher who did not care a f*** in the indie film EDGE OF SEVENTEEN last year. It is as if he expanded that character fully and incorporated the character as WILSON, a film in which the lead character is a lonely, neurotic and funny man who has almost given up on life. When the film opens, he quips that at present all his dreams when he was a kid (like wanting to grow up an astronaut, doctor) are all mired down in disappointment. Wilson (Harrelson) is separated from his estranged wife, Pippi (Laura Dern) but still loves her.

Wilson is likely the saddest protagonist seen in a film this year. Wilson does have a super cute terrier, that he walks daily. Every one would stop to pat this cute thing. Wilson would do a fake dog voice when this happens, creeping the patter out Wilson is also the type who should sit next to a stranger when there are lots of empty seats around i a bus or coffee shop just to strike up a conversation The film uses these segments both for comedy as well as to introduce the character of Wilson to the audience.

As WILSON is a film about losers based on a graphic mover by Daniel Clowes, who also wrote the screenplay, its humour is a bit weird and obviously not for everybody – though I cannot complain as it is very funny.

Alexander Payne (ELECTION, SIDEWAYS, THE DESCENDANTS) was originally hired to direct (he serves as one of the `film’s producers) but Craig Johnson (THE SKELETON TWINS) took over, doing a fine job. The best thing about the film is its unpredictability, just like life itself. Wilson never expected himself to be thrown in jail. While confronting his daughter to give her s*** for testifying against him, he is given good news about being a grandfather. The jail term served by Wilson also surprisingly does him good, forcing him to be social in the prison society. It is believable that such a turn in character can occur.

WILSON is the role that Harrelson was born to play – annoying, eccentric, smart-talking while occasionally being smart. But he would not likely receive an Oscar nomination for such a small film. Laura Dern, an often under-rated actress does a marvellous job as the ex-wife, who keeps her dignity amidst losing her daughter and family. Acting honours also goes to the cute terrier.

In a nut shell, WILSON is a film about a sad middle-aged man called Wilson who through sheer termination finally comes of age in the goring up process. A small little small budget film, WILSON is charming and an entertaining enough film.




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