Wildcat is an assuredly-made drama from director Ethan Hawke (Blaze) and his sensational star Maya Hawke (Do RevengeAsteroid City).  The unconventional period biopic marks the first feature-length father-and-daughter collaboration between the Hawkes, and audiences will surely hope it isn’t the last.

Wildcat overrides the typical biopic formula to offer movie goers an intimate perspective from troubled Southern writer Flannery O’Connor.  Though coincidental, viewers who watched the haunting Hannah Maynard biopic, Be Still, earlier this year may experience some déjà vu;  as O’Connor’s reality is distorted while she imagines her own short stories featuring herself and her mother in multiple roles (Suncoast’s Laura Linney).  These tangents also welcome neat cameos from Steve Zahn (Cowboys), Vincent D’Onofrio (MallLift) and Licorice Pizza’s Cooper Hoffman.

It’s easy to see why filmmakers may be attracted to this personal narrative to get closer to their subject.  Even as someone who entered the film ignorant to O’Connor and her career, the Hawkes do a very good job illustrating how Flannery saw the world she consistently felt like a stranger to.  The film also counters this loneliness by demonstrating how confident the writer was when faced with compromises to her work.  While Flannery O’Connor may have been an enigma, her artistic integrity is inspiring in Wildcat.

The film can sometimes be an overwhelming experience due to the dour nature of the material and Ethan Hawke’s persistence to honour O’Connor’s inner strength, but this film is worth the wallow.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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