Review Blog

WILSON review and interview by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on March 24, 2017 at 8:35 AM

Directed by: Craig Johnson

Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes

Release date: March 24, 2017

Genre: Comedy, Drama, and Adaptation

Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

From the humorous graphic novel, with the same title by author and screenplay writer Daniel Clowes, comes a story of a mid-live coming-of-age tale.  The focus is on the protagonist Wilson (Woody Harrelson), an over-opinionated middle-age man on a quest to find human connection by way of badgering those he comes in contact with in one-sided conversations punctuating his own lofty discussions with a brutally honest, self-negating sense of humor.

The film depicts Wilson as an irrevocable loner who sets out to find and reunite himself with his ex-wife Pippi (Laura Dern).  The chemistry of these two actors (Harrelson and Dern) ignite on screen as they set out to rekindle their long-dead relationship with their teenage daughter Claire (Isabella Amara), born after the marraige ended and given up for adoption.  It is a satirical adventure that engages many people, as they overcome the opstacles preventing them to reunite with their biological, now wealthy, teenage offspring daughter.  

In an odd series of vignettes, Wilson's outrageous and twisted life encounters those who attempt to engage him.  One such person is a lovely open-minded compassionate woman named Shelly (Judy Greer), whose life is a 'ying' to Wilson's 'yang'.  As Pippi is Wilson's early love interest bonded by their relentless search for their daughter, Shelly is the person that secures his life in the latter part of the film.  Meanwhile, Claire goes through a teenage and adolescent stage coming-of-age scenario.  These sequences bring her to bare a child, and putting Wilson and Pippi in a grandparent situation.

The light-hearted dramedy plots are consistently and deliberately designed to amuse and provoke laughter (with one-liners, jokes, absurdity, etc.) by exaggerating the situations, the language, action, relationships, and characters.  Yet, the serious plot-driven dramatic presentation portrays realistic settings, life situations, and delivers intense character development and interactions brought on by superb performances by a multi-talented cast.

In a lively and informative interview with the cast many questions was answered concerning the production.  Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern both mentioned and agreed, "The more Wilson's (in the world), the better because of his outburst of his truth."  Woody Harrelson added information concerning the hoarded set design of Wilson's apartment by stating, "I collect things in my Los Angeles place and it was easy for me to adapt. However, the drama in this film, is the struggle with him bringing situations of humor and comedy to his life. My character Wilson is unfiltered and it allowed me improvise, because you can catch something actually real."  I asked Laura Dern if she added more personal characteristics to her Pippi character in order to make it as animated and complicated than the script and novel called for?  She replied to me, "I collect parts of my personality.  I have fire and excitement from working with Woody.  I wanted to give the character a voice in her life."  Director Craig Johnson and screenplay/novelist Daniel Clowes explained about the transformation of adapting these literary characters to film.  Filmmaker Craig Johnson commented, "I had read the novel and I could see the movie from the Wilson character......and working with Woody, I could see he had the person down."  Daniel Clowes added; "It was 80 pages of strips, and I also had many different pages.  I sat down and organized it by writing a script, and then gave it to Craig.  And yes, Laura Dern created most of the Pippi character."  Judy Greer as Shelly and Isabella Amara as Claire contributed comments.  Judy Greer mentioned, "Craig's style is calm for the 30 day shoot and he set the tone.  I don't read a lot of graphic novels, but Woody and Craig offered me the script and I felt good about the role after my audition."  Isabella contributed a statement by saying, "The set was harmoneous and fun.  We were allowed to create with the script.  The movie touched on very controversial issues relevant to today."

Wilson is an intricate movie filled with sarcasm and dark humor.  It is a fun ride in "Wilson's World".



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