Dreamin' Wild — Patience to Wait for God's Timing

Dreamin' Wild — Patience to Wait for God's Timing

Sometimes independent films are the best stories that don't get enough attention as they should. Bill Pohlad's film "Dreamin' Wild" is one such film. It is a biographical drama based on the book "Fruitland" by Steven Kurutz about an unknown family in Western Washington state recognized years later for incredible talent and contribution to the folk rock music of the 1970s. 

Premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival, this film lacked the reviews I expected since I absolutely loved this story and the way Pohlad crafted the visual experience. At the heart of it is a story of faith and the patience it takes to align our hopes and dreams with God's dreams for us. Though the filmmaker doesn't directly spiritualize the story, the film's subtle presentation of faith offers layers of meaning to viewers with a sacramental imagination. 

Donnie (Casey Affleck) and Joe Emerson (Walton Goggins) grow up on a farm in rural Washington in the 1970s. Their Catholic parents instill in them a realization to appreciate the gifts and talents God has given to each one. Yet as an adult, Donnie, superbly played by Casey Affleck, still tries to express his musical craft with his wife Nancy (Zooey Deschanel) by playing for local bars and gigs when possible. Nothing seems to come of his gift except frustration and weariness. Donnie can't seem to catch a break with this talent that seems to well up within him. 

When the boys were teenagers, they dabbled with guitars and sounds. Donnie was especially gifted with a musical genius many now liken to Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. He worked assiduously at his craft day and night. It became a passion of his that would consume him if he didn't do something about it. Their father (Beau Bridges), a wealthy farmer and landowner, saw the boys' talent and built them a state-of-the-art studio on their farm sinking an incredible amount of money into helping them record an album of original songs called "Dreamin' Wild." He even built them a concert venue where their friends and family can come to hear them play.


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Unfortunately, their album came and went. Nobody bought it. The family lost money, to the point of having to sell off thousands of acres and downsize the farm. All the while, the father, Don Sr., never regretted giving his boys the chance to build up their talents. His love is truly unconditional. Donnie, however, never seemed to get over the loss and pain he caused his father because of what he thought was his selfish ambition. The boys grew up and their lives went in different directions. 

One day, 30 years later, a gentleman shows up at the family farm having discovered the boys' album at a vintage vinyl shop. He believes in Donnie and Joe's talent and wants to re-release the album believing there is a market for their music. The father and mother are thrilled for their sons. Joe can't believe they have finally been "discovered." Donnie is surprised, but unconvinced that it will go anywhere. Life's disappointments have colored his outlook and dampened his artistic soul. 


© 2023 Roadside Attractions. All rights reserved. 


How can someone come to terms with recognition of talents 30 years too late? Or is it ever too late? Maybe God's time is not our time. Maybe waiting to find our "niche" in life is for our good and the salvation of our soul? God knows us more than we know ourselves. This beautiful film helps us see that though life may take us down paths we never expected, our dreams are sometimes fulfilled in ways we never thought possible. 

The film is so incredibly crafted with Catholic symbolism everywhere, showing the roots of the family's values and love for one another in God, the author of all talents and fulfiller of our dreams. This is a subtly crafted film expressing the beauty of visual storytelling the whole family can enjoy.





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