April 20, 2015
By John DeFore
A study of denial and sublimated anger in the wake of a child’s loss, Meadowland checks in with a husband and wife (Luke Wilson and Olivia Wilde) a year after their son was abducted on a road trip. The directorial debut of cinematographer Reed Morano, it is tightly in sync with protagonists who find it impossible to move on despite distractions that might be catalytic in other films. More quietly pained than rawly emotional, the picture will appeal to those moviegoers eager for dramatic turns by Wilde and Wilson, who spend most of their time in lighter fare.
The actors play Sarah and Phil, a teacher and beat cop squeaking by in an unfashionable part of New York City. They’re just beginning to see friends again, but as the film observes, venturing out of the cocoon may be more damaging than helpful: Watching the difficulty his wife is having holding herself together is wearing on the seemingly better-mended Phil. The movie’s action drives home the idea that each of us grieves alone, even with loved ones close by: Sarah begins slipping away unnoticed, for nighttime walks through Times Square crowds; she feels an increasing identification with students at her school who themselves are isolated from their peers. As if responding as much to being alienated from his wife as to his son’s death (he accepts this as likely; she refuses to), Phil starts behaving inappropriately at work.