It seemed many of us went into Reed Morano’s directorial debut, Meadowland, Wed. evening with little or no idea of exactly what we were about to see. The trailer showcased a promising yet ambiguous deep and emotionally charged story with a strong ensemble cast. Does it deliver? Yes and No.
Meadowland is the story of Sarah and Phil (Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson) who are trying to deal with the aftermath of the disappearance of their young son in their shattered world of grief, isolation and desperation. Phil, a NYC police officer, takes the more traditional route with group therapy, while Sarah, a school teacher, descends further into the abyss with (and without) lithium and self delusion.
Wilde and Wilson both give amazingly real and powerful performances. I am not familiar with much of Wilde’s previous work but Wilson is truly at his best here. In fact, all of the cast – including John Leguizamo, Elisabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, and Juno Temple – give outstanding performances in their respective supporting roles.
Morano’s previous work as cinematographer was very apparent as Meadowland was beautifully filmed. Many haunting close up images of the characters which really make you connect. The sonic landscape was equally compelling with the unusual use of blending music, ambient sound and dialogue.
Where Meadowland looses me though is in its writing. I just couldn’t buy into the story. It felt manipulative and confusing. There were too many characters that felt needlessly shoehorned, who didn’t seem to further the story, only muddle it up even more.
In the end though Meadowland isn’t a plot driven story, it is a character study of parents dealing with a situation none should ever have to face. Yes, the actors gave incredible and believable performances but I just couldn’t believe their story. I didn’t hate the film but I certainly didn’t enjoy it either. It falls in with other films such as Bluebird and Little Accidents. Sure they were well made and well acted but I took nothing away from them.