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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
After walking away from his life, Howard gradually comes to some realizations about himself (but it's not totally clear whether he also manages to dispel some of the delusions that let him think of himself as the victim in his struggling marriage).
Positive Role Models
It's hard to see much positive behavior in this portrait of a man who decides to abandon his family out of spite and revels in watching his wife and daughters deal with his mysterious absence. Cast isn't particularly diverse.
Violence & Scariness
Bickering between a husband and a wife. In one scene, two men argue in a bar; one decks the other with a punch to the face. Another sequence shows scavengers getting into a brawl over trash.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No graphic/sensitive nudity, but many scenes show a couple kissing, embracing, and having sex. Sometimes the encounters are tender, and sometimes they're far more passionate. Other scenes show a man spying on a woman through her window at night as she changes; she's often seen in her underwear.
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Language isn't constant but includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "d--khead," and "douchebag."
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Products & Purchases
The wealthy characters have iPhones, fancy cars (Mercedes, Porsche, Range Rover, Lexus), and high-end clothes, including suits by Joseph Aboud. Also lots of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasional drinking, including wine, champagne, and scotch.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wakefield is an intense drama about a man having a midlife crisis who checks out of his life and spends months hiding above his garage while watching his wife and daughters deal with his unexplained absence. Expect occasional swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k") and a little bit of drinking, as well as a couple of fights/altercations and several scenes that show the main character (played by Bryan Cranston) and his wife embracing and having sex. There's no graphic nudity, but some of the sequences can get pretty racy. With its themes of marriage and self-reflection, the movie isn't likely to appeal to younger viewers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This drama is disturbing, thought-provoking, and imperfect; it's good for you but also feels disingenuous. The questions it presents -- what is the place of resentment in a marriage? what is one owed, if anything, in a long-term relationship and a family? -- are urgent, interesting, and relatable. Cranston is undoubtedly the powerhouse behind Wakefield. The film is an examination of Howard's life as a husband and father, but that examination is conducted by Howard himself, which reveals more about how his mind and emotions work than the actual truth. (Though she spends considerably less time being heard, Garner is an able partner to Cranston's masterful turn.)
Despite its strengths, there's something claustrophobic about the movie, devoted as it is to sticking to Howard's version of his life. It also requires a lot of suspension of disbelief: Could a family really never have thought to look in the attic of the garage right across the street? What about the cops? And though Howard's voiceover does reveal his own blind spots, the movie's final moments end Wakefield on a maddeningly vague note.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.