Is this a children's film? It is a movie about childhood, but it is perhaps too slow and subtle to capture the imagination of a younger audience. Perhaps I am underestimating our young friends, however.
The film takes the ten lines of Maurice Sendak's book and spreads the slim tale of Max who is made King of the Wild Things over 104 minutes.
The story begins in Max's neighbourhood and the first few scenes reminded me very strongly of 2008's vampire movie 'Let The Right One In' with it's wintry suburban setting and a lonely boy given to acting out violent assaults on imaginary enemies who is tormented by neighbourhood kids.
Max is from a broken home and is given to volatile outbursts against his disinterested teenage sister and his sympathetic mother (Catherine Keener). A tea-time confrontation with his mother sends the boy on a tearing escape out into the streets which ends with the discovery of a boat, a long voyage, and the discovery of the home of the Wild Things.
The Wild Things are called things like Carol, Ira and Judith and are voiced by familiar voices from Six Feet Under, The Sopranos and Little Miss Sunshine. They have relationship problems and are insecure with low self esteem. They are a bunch of hairy, woodland dwelling Woody Allens, wringing their hands and looking for guidance. Therefore, Max is able to persuade them not to eat him and to make him their King instead.
There is a melancholy woven throughout the film and it is a gentle and unusual creation. I was unsure how I felt about it after watching it and it is difficult to know who it is aimed at. Too slow for kids, too weird for mainstream, perhaps not arty enough for the art-house crowd. It is haunting nonetheless and I shall probably watch it again soon to make up my mind. It is sweet and it is tender and I felt quiet and pensive when it had finished.