Wakefield is one of the stranger post-Breaking Bad films of Bryan Cranston. It’s about a guy who hides out in his own garage and ends up staying there while his family lives in the house—without knowing he is there. Wakefield (Cranston), a New York lawyer, was having a mid-life crisis. He slips back into his house during the day while his family are away and out into the neighbourhood at night. It’s a wealthy neighbourhood, so the dumpsters are full of perfectly edible food, and eventually it gets to the point where he isn’t sure he can really return.
The film seems to be very influenced by The Swimmer, also a film about a man having a mid-life crisis who in that case swims home through all the swimming pools in his neighbourhood.
As Wakefield looks through the window, he sees his family moving on as he disappears from their lives. A lot of the film is narrated, placing the viewer right inside the head of a man who wanted to get away from everyday reality for awhile, but may have taken it too far.
It’s a strange little film. Bryan Cranston’s great, but that’s kind of expected. Jennifer Gardner (who is much younger than Cranston) plays his wife, who barely has a line of dialogue as it’s entirely from Wakefield’s point of view. There isn’t loads of action and interaction, it’s more of an interior monologue about escaping everyday life and pressures and the consequences of it.
The film was based on a short story by E.L. Doctorow, the author of Ragtime, which was in turn inspired by an earlier Nathanial Hawthorne short story. The film ends on an ambiguous note, unlike The Swimmer, which has one of the most devastating endings ever. Filmmaker Robin Swicord manages to do a lot with a small story without many changes of scene but that’s helped enormously by Cranston’s talents as a performer.
There are a couple of interviews with Cranston, Gardner and Swicord on the disc.