A Short Review of “Wildcat” from a Flannery O’Connor Neophyte
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
May 9, 2024
I watched the movie knowing nothing about Flannery O’Connor or her work other than that she was a controversial Catholic author. Listening to Ethan Hawke and Eric Groth talk about the film, I got a better sense of their approach and how what sometimes seemed a bit disjointed actually does fit together. 
 
It reminded me of two long ago friends. One was about O’Connor’s age when she went to the big city and experienced new things for a year or two … then felt like she couldn’t handle it when she returned home and no one else in her family or among her friends had grown or changed at all. Like O’Connor, my friend was very critical of her relatives and others who seemed so set in their very short-sighted and probably prejudiced ways.  
 
My other friend had to go and live with his parents after being away for many years when he developed cancer. He was in his late 30s so was not so critical … but he called their home “the Velvet Prison,” feeling smothered until he grew too ill to care.
 
O’Connor is shown to be blunt and with zero social graces … a person who struggled even when not trapped at home, deeply lonely in her inability to relax and enjoy life and others. A very difficult personality to be stuck with, and it had me wondering if perhaps she was somewhere on the autism spectrum. Whether she was or not, her prickliness and feelings of not belonging must have been a terrible cross for her (and others around her) to bear.
 
The movie had some great lines about faith, from O’Connor and from other sources, and I wish there could have been more of that. For example: “What people don’t understand is how much religion costs. They think it’s a big electric blanket, when what it is, is the cross.” O’Connor did not face her illness and suffering gracefully, but there was grace at work as she got used to her reality.
 
So, if you are a fan of Flannery O’Connor’s work, this is the movie for you. If not, well, you still might want to go see it and gain some insights into the young woman (she died from lupus at age 39) who wrote brilliantly, honestly and unsentimentally about unpleasant people as she herself wrestled with God and demons without and within.
 
The website (https://wildcat.oscilloscope.net) has a map and listing of theaters where it will be playing. The film will be released May 3. The site lists showings starting May 17 in Machesney Park, Oswego, Lombard, Naperville, Carpentersville, Barrington, Schaumberg and May 24 in St. Charles. Check local theaters.
 
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