Have you ever watched a film and then walked out of the cinema unsure whether you liked it or not? Well, Wilson was a bit like that for me.
Starring Woody Harrelson as the title character, Wilson is a quirky comedy about a socially inept, bitter, middle aged man with a tendency to rub people up the wrong way (and seemingly gets a bizarre, sadistic pleasure out of doing so). A bit like a wannabe hipster who’s not quite cool enough to pull it off, Wilson hates most things about modern society along with humans in general but is also driven by an innate sense of loneliness and longing for companionship. This combination does not an easy life make.
Based on a graphic novel of the same name (written by Daniel Clowes), the film follows Wilson’s downward spiral of a life over the course of a few years; during which he mourns the death of his father, loses his best friend to suburban St Louis and tracks down his crack-whore ex wife only to find out he has a seventeen year old daughter who she put up for adoption after faking an abortion. (I told you he didn’t have an easy life…)
Harrelson does a stellar job overall. He captures the acerbic wit of a cranky bastard (who is probably a little bit on the spectrum) perfectly and delivers some hilarious one-liners and off-beat remarks which had me laughing out loud (with the occasional snort) throughout. He’s joined by a very strong cast including Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, Wild & Big Little Lies), Cheryl Hines (best known as Larry David’s wife in Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Judy Greer (bug-eyed quasi-ginger who pops up in most romantic comedies as the sassy best friend). Along with cameos by Margo Martindale, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Brett Gelman, a noteworthy performance is also delivered by star on the rise, Isabella Amara as Wilson’s ‘chip off the old block’ social outcast of a daughter.
Structurally, the film follows the tone of the graphic novel in the sense that it jumps through different periods in Wilson’s life highlighting his interactions with various humans. Although only 90 minutes long (which is practically a ‘short’ compared to the blockbuster behemoths of modern cinema), the film felt like it was dragging on a bit. Perhaps some of this could be attributed to the oft-depressing subject matter and style of the film (after all, director Craig Johnston’s films are not renowned for being up-beat and action-packed), but in general there was something that just didn’t quite click for me.
Don’t get me wrong – it is by no means a terrible movie and there are certainly some wonderful moments captured throughout. However, I really wanted to love this film… but much like many of my ill-fated relationships, I thought it was heading somewhere great and it just never quite got there.