“Wildlife” star Carey Mulligan and filmmaker Paul Dano were forced to defend their film during an awkward moment at the film’s New York Film Festival post-screening Q&A session. Following the October 1 screening, a man in the audience was selected to ask a question but instead criticized the movie directly to Mulligan and Dano. The male audience member singled out Mulligan’s character, Jeanette Brinson, as a problem in the movie.
The audience member addressed Mulligan and criticized her character for being “completely reprehensible” and “unsympathetic.” Mulligan’s Jeanette is a 1960s housewife whose life spirals after her husband, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, leaves home to fight wildfires in the mountains of Montana. Mulligan responded to the criticism by addressing how new it still is for audiences to see female characters as messy as Jeanette since there are so few of them ever represented.
“We’re all too used to only seeing women behaving really well [in movies],” Mulligan said. “When we see them out of control or struggling it doesn’t ring true because of everything we’ve been brought up to understand that women are always perfect and can do anything. That’s an unrealistic expectation of a woman. Seeing real humanity on-screen can be really jarring from a female perspective.”
Mulligan’s response received a big applause from the audience. The actress’ performance in “Wildlife” has received acclaim since the film’s premiere at Sundance earlier this year. Critics have praised Mulligan for tackling an unlikeable character and getting the viewer to understand the emotional truth behind her behavior. Dano was equally supportive during the NYFF discussion, responding to the criticism by saying he sympathizes with the mother and her struggle for identity.
The unfortunate Q&A moment at NYFF arrived several months after the Tribeca Film Festival made headlines during a panel conversation at the 35th anniversary screening of “Scarface.” The panel moderator, Jesse Kornbluth, was criticized after asking Michelle Pfieffer a question about how much she weighed during filming.
IFC Films opens “Wildlife” in select theaters October 19.
carey mulligan, delivering A+ response to the man who ranted at NYFF WILDLIFE screening about how reprehensible he found jeanette: [paraphrased] “we’re so used to seeing women always behaving very well on screen, that when we see them acting any other way—with flaws—it’s jarring”
— yurie kwon ✨ 🔜 NYCC (@yurieeka) October 2, 2018
Talk about wild life! The Q&A with Paul Dano and Carey Mulligan after tonight’s #WildlifeTheFilm was intense. Watching them set straight the old white dude who used the Q&A to share his terrible understanding of the film was really exhilarating! @TheNYFF pic.twitter.com/JeCOiofQAW
— Mae (@moonpilotmae) October 2, 2018