A ten-sentence picture book from 1963 has inspired a 100-minute movie about the anxieties and loneliness of childhood. Thankfully, the lack of strong narrative makes way for a beautifully fragile and contemplative tone, under which lies very gentle humour and moments of inspired lunacy (wait until you meet Terry and Bob). More
It’s hard to tell what kids will make of this languid fantasy. Instead, hipster–king director Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) seems to have adults in his sights, particularly those that still scribble monsters onto their guitar amps or worship musos Karen O and Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox (both feature on the wistful soundtrack).
Rustic production design and South Australian location photography transport us to the landscape of young Max’s psyche (nothing is spelled out as such but we are led to assume it). It’s a land of rocky canyons, sandy dunes, barren forests and vast oceans, nicely enhancing the theme of alienation.
The wild things themselves are amazingly expressive. Visually they are identical to the ones in the book, although they are given individual personalities. At the forefront is Carol (expertly voiced by James Gandolfini), a volatile but principled critter who takes a shine to Max.
Where the Wild Things Are is complex yet childishly simple, insightful yet puzzling. It’s hard to pick how this will go down with the casual filmgoer but I found it to be a completely unique vision, deeply moving and told from the heart. Hide