This week, two new trailers were released that, at first glance, seem to have little in common. But look a little closer, and the similarities between this dark comedy and family drama start to emerge. Both mark debuts: Wildlife is the first directorial effort from Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Little Miss Sunshine, The Girl Next Door), and The Sisters Brothers are the first English-language feature from Jacques Audiard, who is best known stateside for Rust and Bone and The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Both Wildlife and The Sisters Brothers are adaptations of novels. And lastly, and most importantly, both feature Jake Gyllenhaal in all of his swarthy, puppy-eyed, and exceedingly versatile glory. Oh, and both will be released in theaters within a week of one another, so you can make a real “Gyllenhaal-day” of it! But first, a quick word before you watch the new trailer for The Sisters Brothers—get ready for gunshots, and lots of ‘em:
The Sisters Brothers
In the first thirty seconds of this trailer alone, there are ten shots fired, a music box plays “Tainted Love,” and a woman is assaulted (or worse—granted, it’s off-camera). This is our introduction to the aforementioned Sisters siblings, a pair of hitmen tearing through Oregon and California circa 1851. They eventually end up on the trail of Riz Ahmed, a chemist who has allegedly concocted every prospector’s dream invention, and yes, Jake Gyllenhaal, who, despite playing one of the most iconic cowboys of all time, hasn’t been in anything even approaching a Western since. Lest we forget that John C. “Dr. Steve Brule” Reilly has earned multiple Academy Award nominations, he’s here to freak us out about as much as watching John Lithgow in Dexter, and as for Mr. Phoenix, it’s probably safe to say that he’s off the Franco-Labeouf express for good and back to putting in work for awards season. Despite trying to fool us with his sympathetic turns as Theodore Twombly in Her and cartoonist John Callahan in the upcoming Gus Van Sant joint, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Phoenix clearly feels at his best when he’s being—and doing—bad (see: Gladiator, The Master, You Were Never Really Here, and so forth). The trailer teases a standoff, at gunpoint (of course) between Phoenix and Gyllenhaal, and we’ll probably need until at least the October 12 release date to figure out who we’re rooting for. That’s also plenty of time to get your book club on board with the novel if that’s your thing.
First of all, maybe we haven’t been paying close enough attention, but when did Carey Mulligan transition from ingénue to onscreen mom? It must have been Mudbound that did it. At least she and Gyllenhaal, who has traded an 1850s beard for a razor-sharp 1960s part, make an age-appropriate couple, which is a rarity these days. Mulligan and Gyllenhaal have appeared together before, in the 2009 thriller Brothers, but their characters had minimal interaction. Both are earning plenty of early critical acclaim for their performances in Wildlife—you can see it all right there in the trailer’s abundant text overlays—which follows the struggles of a small family against the backdrop of a small town and a raging wildfire that is alluded to in the trailer, but never seen. While The Sisters Brothers brim with frontier-style violence, Wildlife seems to tackle the nuances of fraught family dynamics, kind of like Blue Valentine and Boyhood crossed with Far From Heaven. And we’re excited to see what relative newcomer Ed Oxenbould brings to the table as the son caught in the middle. Though he is the narrator in the original novel, he only has one line in the whole trailer: “Mom, is Dad okay?” Now that’s what we call framing a narrative! Wildlife will be in theaters beginning October 19, but it’s already dazzled audiences at both Sundance and Cannes, which is as sure a sign as any that it, and its major players, are destined for further accolades.