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Wilson is the kind of guy who will chew your ear off with his bitterness while you’re at a bar, a cafe, or the subway; someone who hates everyone, most of all himself. An adaptation of the ultra-depressing Daniel Clowes graphic novel.


WILSON is a new adaptation of the graphic novel masterpiece by Daniel Clowes, the best graphic novelist in the world according to the Indiekino editors. The film was made 16 years after the grandiose GHOST WORLD, which started the career of young Scarlett Johansson. Clowes WILSON from 2010 was his first graphic novel that wasn’t part of a series. It tells the story of an insufferable middle-aged man, an arrogant loser who can only stand himself by putting others down. Wilson has no friends, no job, no family, and not even a hint of social status. When his last “friend” moves away, Wilson finds himself slowly disappearing and he tries to become a person again by making a desperate move.

The novel is made up of anecdotes from Wilson’s life that slowly build up to a narrative. Clowes’ “Wilson” has its very own timing. It’s a book that reads like a poetry volume and not like a novel. Wilson is both a character and a comic book figure, a silly and uncomfortable individual; one of these peculiar, depressing types who chews peoples ears off in public and hates everyone, most of all himself, but who is also a tragic slapstick clown in an existentialist screwball comedy.

The film adaptation directed by Craig Johnson with Woody Harrelson as Wilson and Laura Dern as his ex-wife Pippi often doesn’t find the right balance between disgust, ridiculousness, pity, and contempt towards Wilson. There are very funny scenes, and Harrelson and Dern are fully committed. You can almost smell Harrelson’s armpit sweat and you certainly believe the hard times Laura Dern’s Pippi has gone through, but both are too physical, too angular and energetic to let the tiredness, the exhaustion, and the loneliness of their characters seep through. The best actor to play Wilson would have probably been Philip Seymour Hoffman, but someone with his mannerisms and physicality only comes around once.

Wilsons hatred towards the world and himself is always perceptible, but the desperate, clumsy attempts to come in contact with the world and assert himself aren’t very clear. WILSON makes for an ambivalent viewing experience. Craig Johnson’s film is sometimes reminiscent of Todd Solondz’s outsider films that are also quite brutal towards their characters. Clowes’ Wilson recognizable behavior is what made Clowes’ Wilson so human and is what is missing in Craig Johnson’s adaptation.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Wilson
USA 2017, 94 min
Genre: Comedy
Director: Craig Johnson
Author: Daniel Clowes
DOP: Frederick Elmes
Montage: Paul Zucker
Music: Jon Brion
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox of Germany
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Cheryl Hines, Judy Greer
FSK: 12
Release: 29.06.2017




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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