Raphael Georg Klopper’s review published on Letterboxd:
Only if actor turn director nowadays were this much good. I guess that’s to prove the immense talent that is to be still found in Paul Dano, not just as an actor anymore but also as a filmmaker (and screenwriter). By showing to know how to gracefully respect the work of novel that he adapts, at the same time that he fills it with his own personal fingerprints, almost enough to trick the audience to think that this is his autobiographical story (wich in a way it is).
Thank goodness thought that this doesn’t fall into indie technological filmmaking territory nor style. Even if at first glance the stilt camera frame technique that Dano chooses to use looks very peculiar, but serves its purpose to capture in its beautiful huge shots the vast magnitude of the world that the story takes place and the smallness of its characters that inhabit it.
But also knows how to let go of it when necessary and shows how to poetically circulate in its enviroments and evocate all the feelings of comfort, insecurity and despair that pass through the whole story, and then you realize how much the creator behind the camera knows very well what is doing in his more than great directing work. And his enormous devotion and passion for wanting to tell the story of these people with its excellent actors.
Jake Gyllenhaal is Jake Gyllenhaal, and you know what Jake Gyllenhaal is so I rest my speech, besides his brilliant look at the ending scene says it all. Let me focus on Ed Oxenbould that, besides the fact that he resembles Paul Dano minus the hysterical scream top to bottom, he also manages throught soo much subtlety he carries the whole film with his deep look in his eyes that says more than a thousand words all the will of a young man struggling at first in wanting to show and do his best in his life and for his family, and later on also the growing despair that comes to him when the life he know begins to crumble and (sometimes literally) burn.
But who steals the film almost entirely by herself is Carey Mulligan who is simply magnificent in playing a woman after facing neglection and feeling lost, struggle to find the best for her life but without nowing what it is, love responsability plaser, anything to fill the empity frustration awaken on her. Something that even the boy and father also show to have by the third half of the film.
Dano's film by the end, after a chaotic and intimately tragic avalanche of feelings in collision, wants to say something soo universally true that we can all relate with. That family, and the love and tender that we absorb out of it is the one we most like to keep and remember for ourselfs.