Wakefield Review
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Most of us are so busy on a daily basis that we long to take a step back from our lives—to walk away from the responsibilities and the busyness of it all. But in Wakefield, one man takes that step back from his life, only to find it impossible to step back in.

Wakefield stars Bryan Cranston as Howard Wakefield, a successful New York City litigator whose life takes a strange and sudden turn when he arrives home late one night and finds himself watching his wife and daughters from outside their home. Remembering an argument he had with his wife, Diana (Jennifer Garner), he decides to wait to go in—to watch them from a room above the garage. But he never seems to be able to find the right time to return home—so he stays in the garage. And as the days turn into months, he reflects on his life, his marriage, and his priorities.

Based on the story by E. L. Doctorow, Wakefield has a lot to say about love and marriage—and how the hectic pace of our lives today causes us to miss out on so much. After Howard steps away from the day-to-day chaos, he gets a chance to take a real look at his life as he watches his family from his hiding place in the garage.

The biggest problem, however, is that Howard simply isn’t a likable character. He’s selfish and cynical and even cruel, often reveling in his wife’s pain. He walks away out of his own pettiness, and he stays away because of his pride. And as he watches his family, he enjoys Diana’s confusion. He takes pleasure in the fact that she’s forced to take care of everything by herself. He accuses her of playing the victim. He’s offended when she continues to go on with her life without him. And though he does make some keen observations, most of his thoughts seem remarkably self-centered.

The story, too, seems to drag after a while—which is often the case when a short story is adapted into a feature-length film. The idea is an interesting one—after all, most of us have wished for a break from our lives at one point or another—but it all feels a little too stretched out.

Wakefield certainly poses some interesting questions—and it will leave viewers with plenty to think about once it’s over. But the self-absorbed character and the stretched out story sometimes make it challenging to watch.

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