You may need to be a parent to fully appreciate Meadowland, a drama about loss and grief. Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson play parents of a child who suddenly goes missing. Most of the movie takes place a year later. By then, husband and wife are dealing variously: she’s on Lithium and self-medicating with wine, he’s attending support groups and investigating the disappearance. Not lending itself to neat character arcs, theirs is a messy portrait. At least a few stages of grief—denial, anger, depression—brew within the mother, and her behavior skews toward the self-destructive. Meanwhile, the father tries to be in acceptance, but displaces his grief. In her directorial debut, Reed Morano, better known as a DP, punctuates close-ups and tracking shots with stunning landscape shots. Endowed with an impressionistic, poetic feel, Meadowland often hits the nail on the head, occasionally remains elliptical. Too many of the scenes handhold us with melancholic music, the best do not offer such heavy-handed companionship. Giovanni Ribisi co-stars as a deadbeat brother-in-law, the only source of humor, besides, possibly, Elisabeth Moss, who plays a trashy New Jersey housewife.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White