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Bryan Cranston Abandons His Family, But Like in a Poetic Way, in ‘Wakefield’ Trailer

The ennui of suburban life can drive a middle-aged man to do crazy things. Usually, it’s something like having an affair or purchasing a flashy compensatory car. For Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, it meant a return to his teenage habits of blazin’ it and kickin’ out the Guess Who jams. And in E.L. Doctorow’s 2008 short story Wakefield, a family man breaks free from the shackles of everyday drudgery by abandoning his family and then watching them react to his disappearance from the attic of the house next door. But, like, in a poetic way.

The first trailer for the festival-feted adaptation of Doctorow’s dramatic story has arrived and Bryan Cranston takes the lead role of Howard Wakefield, a man feeling trapped in his own life. One day, he decides to chuck it all away and hunker down in the adjacent home’s attic, voyeuristically observing his family as they start to process his disappearance. His doting wife (Jennifer Garner) falls to pieces over her husband’s absence, but all the same, Howard coolly watches from across the way. Years slip by, he cultivates a man-in-the-wildnerness beard and gets mistaken for homeless by a small child, and still he cannot bear to return to the stifling confines of his beautiful home and telegenic spouse. Existential angst is a hell of a drug.

The film will open on May 19, both in a limited theatrical release and on V.O.D., which means that all the malcontent small-town dads with whom this will resonate most strongly will have access to it. Could this account of Howard’s unhappiness and his childish efforts to evade it trigger an abandonment boom? (Like a baby boom, but with more poorly processed arrested development.)

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