Many would make the argument that drama pieces such as Meadowland are completely ignored by big Awards showcases simply because they don’t have the financial backing. They’d be correct, but you’d be hard pressed to call a film that deals with the same ineffective topics as Meadowland an Award contender. Dealing with just about every issue it can possibly fathom in its short hour and a half of screen time, Luke Wilson and Olivia Wilde can bring us nothing short of bumbling mediocrity in this Reed Moran directed piece.
Following the story of a married couple who suddenly have to deal with their only child going missing, Meadowland is a heavy hitting piece that lacks the expected depth necessary to perform with anything more than forgettable pastiche. Trying to invigorate every other style of dramatic piece on the planet and integrating them all together in some sick and twisted blend of style, Meadowland’s largest issue is its lack of time management. We spend so little time focusing on the issue at the heart of Sarah (Wilde) and Phil (Wilson) that the film soon devolves into the two making rash actions on the preface of something darker looming around every corner.
The only change is that this dark change has already been set in stone within the first five minutes, and what could’ve been a touching and heart-breaking piece about a family pulling together or falling apart soon becomes a drastic thriller as we join Sarah and Phil a year later when they struggle to communicate their feelings with one another. Certainly your typical style of drama, yet the arcs of these two leading characters is so unbelievably profound and stupid that it makes it hard not to hate both Wilde and Wilson.
Wilson’s performance would’ve been great if it were given more time to develop, whereas Wilde would be much better if she were restrained and didn’t have a predictable spiral into madness and obsession. Maybe an entire role reversal would’ve worked better for this style of narrative. Wilson doesn’t really do anything for the entire running time, and the film soon falls from being a piece focusing on how people deal with grief, changing rapidly into a film about how far Olivia Wilde will go to kidnap a kid. Wilson on the other hand goes through the one stage of grief, detachment to anything around him, his performance included.
Such boring performances aren’t limited to just our leading characters, but also to our supporting cast. Including the likes of Elizabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi and Kevin Corrigan, Meadowland is filled to the brim with actors that would be famous if their one stereotypical role hadn’t been filled by someone much more talented and interesting. They’re all unrecognisably bland throughout, if anything the one credit you could really give to Meadowland is its ability to provide nothing at all in the way of interesting commentary on real world issues.
A clear misfire that was in need of a heavy overhaul of its script, Meadowland’s potential far exceeds anything it could ever dream of achieving under its undeniably useless character arcs or its overtly bland direction. Nothing but candidly shot commentaries on wildly unbelievable characters, performances that do nothing to convince us that these characters are even worth liking in the slightest. Meadowland is boring, and the worst part about that is it’s a unique type of boring.