Claire Denis recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of her most recent film with a gala party at Paris’ Père Lachaise cemetery. While the French director spoke about her upcoming projects at the time, one of which is a sequel to her 2012 movie, she didn’t reveal any details about the plot or the characters involved. But we now know one of the projects she’s been working on — it’s a movie with an English-speaking protagonist whose name is Robert Pattinson!
The Twilight actor will play a father who is forced to choose between his newborn child and an injured animal he treats to save its life. It’s the ultimate dilemma, and one that will undoubtedly be faced by many real-life parents today. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Pattinson teases, “It’s a really interesting situation, because there’s a lot of gray area in the middle. He’s a naturalist at heart, but he’s responsible for a family as well.”
ET’s Maria Shriver also spoke with Pattinson, who explained that playing a father trying to be a good man in a difficult situation was both challenging and exciting. “It was a bit of a juggling act trying to balance the two, but I think I did it justice,” he said. “I hope so. I think it’s one of the more interesting roles that I’ve played. I don’t think I’ve ever played a more complex character. Maybe more complex in the sense that it was a more difficult role to pull off. I think it’s a difficult issue to find the right man for the job, if you know what I mean.”
While we wait for more details about the film, let’s take a look at what we know so far.
According to a report by RedEye, Denis’ new movie will be released in US theaters on February 12, 2017. The site also notes that France’s version of the Oscars, the Cesars, have chosen “Wildlife” as the French entry for the best foreign language film category for this year’s awards season. But since this is still early in the film’s development, no other dates have been set for its international premiere. More details about the movie’s plot may also be revealed at the Cannes Film Festival, which opens in France this week.
We know very little about Denis’ new film, but thanks to a press release issued by A24, an American indie film production company that backed “Mad Max: Fury Road,” we know a bit more about its plot. The movie is based on Richard Ford’s award-winning 1996 novel of the same name — which was later turned into a 2001 Hollywood movie with the same name. In the novel, a childless couple, Oliver and Elizabeth Taylor, decide to adopt a baby girl, and the action follows their attempts to be good parents while dealing with the challenges that come with fatherhood. Once they’ve brought the baby home from the hospital, Oliver takes the child on walks in the forest and teaches her how to be a naturalist. He’s also determined not to lose her to other children, so whenever she wants to play with her friends, he insists that it’s too dangerous for her to be out there by herself. He’s ultimately forced to choose between his daughter and a wounded bear, and it’s a dilemma that many real-life parents will undoubtedly find themselves in.
One of the things that make “Wildlife” so compelling is that it’s based on a real family’s experience. In an interview with Shriver, the director revealed that she didn’t want to make a movie about a mythical creature or a story that didn’t have a basis in reality. “It’s all about being there and feeling it,” she said. “If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s not right. Even the fact that some of the scenes are improvised, it’s not like we’re just saying it. We’re really doing it.”
The film’s main character is played by American actor Robert Pattinson, who will be making his debut in a French theatrical release. He’s best known for his role as the young Christian Grey in the film adaptations of the bestselling “Fifty Shades of Grey” books, and for his role as the vampire king Edward Cullen in the Twilight film series. Pattinson will be playing the father of a young girl who is adopted by a couple with no children of their own. He described the character as “complex” and “interesting,” saying, “He’s a naturalist at heart, but he’s responsible for a family as well.”
Although Shriver didn’t say who else would be appearing in Denis’ new film, it’s rumored that Julianne Moore will be playing Oliver’s second wife, and that Vanessa Redgrave will be joining the cast as Elizabeth’s mother. The movie also stars Jonny Lee Miller and Jason Flemyng as well as Paul Walter Hauser and Emelia Huber.
While we don’t know much about Denis’ new film, we do know a bit about its inspiration. Dennehy revealed in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that the story is based on a real family’s experience. A day after he announced he’d be playing Oliver in the movie, Irish actor Stephen Dillane, who plays Oliver’s father in the film, died of cancer. The director revealed that she’d seen something in Dillane that she wanted to explore further, and she decided to use his death as a way to continue his story. “I saw a lot of myself in Stephen, and a lot of love as well,” she said in the interview. “I was very moved by this. It gave me an idea of what I could do with the story. I found it an incredibly generous and moving gesture, which I have never experienced before with a role.”
Dillane’s death also served as a way for Denis to continue her exploration of fatherhood and family. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, she described playing the role of a father as “one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. It was a journey of self-discovery, and it really changed me as a person. I’ve never been a father, and it was a learning curve that I probably won’t ever get back.”
Since its premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival last September, “Wildlife” has received mostly positive reviews from critics. Common praise has centered on the movie’s acting and direction, as well as its unique perspective on a father-daughter dynamic. “It’s brave and wonderful how Denis tackles the issue of fatherhood head-on,” wrote Kate Taylor of The Guardian. “The strength of her narrative technique makes it clear that she’s not looking to push an agenda. Instead, she wants to examine the issue with a straight face and let the audience decide for themselves how they feel about it.”
Denis’ fearless approach to portraying an issue that is very much alive today won her praise from other critics as well. “Claire Denis’ ‘Wildlife’ is a master class in how to make a horror movie that isn’t afraid to be heart-wrenching,” wrote Peter Matz of IGN. “Whether or not you’ve been directly affected by this issue, you’ll probably feel something when watching this movie.”
If you’re curious about what to expect from “Wildlife,” then you might want to check out its overview. Created by A24, this synopsis serves as a quick guide to what you can look forward to with fresh eyes.
Based on Richard Ford’s award-winning novel of the same name, the story follows a childless couple who decide to adopt a baby girl. Once they’ve brought the baby home from the hospital, Oliver, as the father, takes the child on walks in the forest and teaches her how to be a naturalist. He’s also determined not to lose her to other children, so whenever she wants to play with her friends, he insists that it’s too dangerous for her to be out there by herself. He’s ultimately forced to choose between his daughter and a wounded bear, and it’s a dilemma that many real-life parents will undoubtedly find themselves in.