Dreamin’ Wild

  • 17 Sep - 23 Sep, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

In a sense, Dreamin’ Wild is about that margin of error. Based on a true story recounted in a work of journalism called Fruitland by Steven Kurutz, it’s a tale of two musician brothers, Don and Joe Emerson (Casey Affleck and Walton Goggins, respectively). In the early 1980s as teenagers, the boys made an album, Dreamin’ Wild, that – thanks to Don’s prodigious natural musical talent and Joe’s lesser contribution of enthusiastic if not always in-time drumming – turned out far better than anyone would expect from kids living in the sticks and working in a home studio way before that was feasible for most, let alone cool. When the album gets rediscovered and re-released on vinyl 30 years later, it’s raved about on blogs and early incarnations of social media, and earns an 8 out of 10 in a review at online music mag Pitchfork. That’s a really good score, they have to explain to their father Don Sr. (Beau Bridges), their biggest fan. Don Sr. may be a simple farmer, but he can see that an 8 out of 10 is not as good as a 10 out of 10. There are some wonderful riffs here, and a soulful generosity extended toward the kind of folk that never get their due in so many ways. But just when the film seems poised to deliver something scorching in its cold wisdom, the whole turreted sand castle gets washed away by a wave of sentimentality and an engulfing break, all closure and hugs. This film alternates between timelines: one set in 2011 just when Dreamin’ Wild gets rediscovered and one set back in the day when younger Emerson brother Donnie discovered in himself an unceasing musical fecundity, prompting him to write sometimes two or three songs a day. However, Donnie’s solo career doesn’t quite turn out the way he expected, even though he sticks at it doggedly for years. When we meet him as an adult, he’s a husband to Nancy (Zooey Deschanel) and a father to two kids. They run a small recording studio in Spokane and gig at weddings (she’s the drummer), playing covers. When Matt Sullivan (Chris Messina) contacts the family to try and reissue their long forgotten album on his label Light in the Attic, it’s almost too much for Don (Jr.), who doesn’t feel that same connection to the material he made years ago.

– Compilation