to mark the occasion of his birthday, my three favourite Paul Dano films (as of yet - I expect either Looper or Twelve Years a Slave may seize Little Miss Sunshine’s crown…)
- Little Miss Sunshine (2006), dir. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
- There Will Be Blood (2007), dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
- Where the Wild Things Are (2009), dir. Spike Jonze
LMS is a film I consider to be more amusing than anything else, but Paul Dano as voluntarily mute, Nietzsche-loving teen Dwayne stands out as one of the more interesting elements. His emotional breakdown is the most genuinely moving scene of the film. He’s a great embodiment of bitter and mildly pretentious teen angst.
I’d be stupid not to mention There Will Be Blood, because as Eli Sunday, Dano’s fucking brilliant. Right from the start, Sunday is baby-faced, apparently serene, but oddly sinister. Soon, he’s revealed to be a dangerously charismatic, fatally ambitious young man with a bottomless depth of aggression hidden beneath a holy exterior. The fact that Dano is so unbelievably hypnotic and fascinating when acting opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in that role is alone a testament to his genius in this film.
In Where the Wild Things Are, he voices the puny, overlooked goat-boy Alexander. Alexander is the lonely one, the one who’s constantly speaking up but is barely ever acknowledged, who’s desperate for any kind of attention but is bitingly snide and bitter to compensate for his alienation. He’s one of the first in the group to see through Max, so to speak. Yes, he’s pretty uncomfortable to be around. But he earns our sympathy, because, like all the Wild Things, it’s easy to think of many an occasion when we’ve felt and spoken just like him.
10 Notes/ Hide
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