By SALINA POST
Based on a true story, "Dreamin’ Wild" is a testament to patience, optimism, and creative ambition.
The film’s title is also the name of the debut album written, produced, and recorded by teenage brothers Donnie and Joe Emerson. The precocious amateur musicians, who grew up on a farm in the state of Washington, poured their hearts into that record and were met with public indifference.
Thirty years later, Joe (Walton Goggins) and Donnie (Casey Affleck) are struggling with adult responsibilities. Their father (Beau Bridges) has lost nearly all of his farmland.
Donnie and his wife Nancy (Zooey Deschanel) perform at small venues around the area, but they have kids of their own and trouble making ends meet.
Joe no longer plays music at all. But then fate intervenes: a record collector finds a copy of "Dreamin’ Wild," likes what he hears, and gets a music executive to listen.
The executive hears a lost masterpiece. He wants to re-release the album behind a big marketing campaign. The New York Times does a story on the Emersons.
But the sudden spotlight brings its own kind of stress: Joe and Donnie aren’t the same wide-eyed, enthusiastic artists they were as teens.
Writer-director Bill Pohlad wisely emphasizes characterization over plot, knowing that the story’s feel-good narrative is fairly clichéd by now.
His previous film, Love and Mercy (about The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson) showed great empathy for musical artists and a keen awareness of the negative effects of fame, media attention, and sky-high expectations.
An added bonus of the film is the soundtrack itself, showcasing the Emersons’ irresistibly catchy ‘’70s-era rock ‘n’ roll, giving the film a warm nostalgic glow that recalls the joy and heartache of youth.
Rated PG for mature themes and some profanity