While you may think “Wildcat” is a biopic, more so, it is a series of short stories by Flannery O’Connor linked up and barely featuring the writer in a notable capacity.


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Plot Summary

Set in 1950, “Wildcat” partly focuses on the deteriorating health and patience of Flannery O’Connor, who has recently moved back to her hometown in Georgia. While there, she tries to write her first novel as she works out her feelings towards her mother, the rural south, and her crush on her professor through short stories.

Content Information

  • Dialog: Discriminatory Language, Cursing
  • Violence: Gun Violence, Blood
  • Sexual Content: Nothing notable
  • Miscellaneous: Drinking, Drug Use, Smoking

Characters and Cast Members

Character’s Name Actor’s Name
Flannery O’Connor Maya Hawke
Regina Laura Linney
Cal Philip Ettinger

Character Description(s)

Flannery O’Connor

Maya Hawke as Flannery O'Connor
Maya Hawke as Flannery O’Connor

Reserved and a bit awkward, Flannery uses writing to express herself and to process and gain an understanding of the people in her rural southern hometown.

Regina

Laura Linney as Regina
Laura Linney as Regina

Regina is Flannery’s mother, who is a conservative southern woman, not necessarily comfortable with how the world is changing, but by no means someone who would care enough to impede the changes society is going through.

Cal

Philip Ettinger as Cal and Maya Hawke as Flannery O'Connor
Philip Ettinger as Cal and Maya Hawke as Flannery O’Connor

Cal is Flannery’s professor up in New York, whom she has a crush on, but the only reciprocation seems to be that he protects her from the comments of the other boys and tries to give her a sense of community.

Review

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

Good If You Like

  • Southern, rural stories with characters who are a bit eccentric

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Highlights

You Grow To Love The Shorts

Initially, when it comes to the shorts, it can be difficult to get into them as you watch Maya Hawke and Laura Linney play the most random of characters. However, as you realize these stories and characters are how Flannery sees and processes the people in her life, you get it. They present a harsh reality. Whether it is the changing rights and freedoms of Black Americans, her relationship, or lack thereof, with men, or the relationship she has with her mother, which may not be cuddles and welcomed conversation, but there is still love there.

And I’d even say there could come a point where you become far more interested in Flannery’s stories than what little you are presented of her life.

Flannery’s Relationship With Her Mom

It’s clear from the start that while Flannery may have a Southern Catholic upbringing, and thus she does adhere to many of the ways her mother would hope she does, at the same time, there is a rift between them. Nothing large enough that they can’t cross it, but as shown through her short stories, she disagrees with her mom’s way of thinking, even when she has good intentions behind them.

In fact, while Flannery is very focused on her work and shuns her mom’s beliefs and what she wants for her, there is something beautiful about your adult daughter rejecting a lot of what you think and believe in yet still having a relationship with them. This helps you see, even if Regina is prejudiced, if not racist, and far more old-fashioned than Flannery may like, she knows her momma loves her, and that is enough for them to try to maintain their relationship.

On The Fence

At Times The Short Stories Compete With The Story Of The Writer

We learn far more about Flannery through her work than seeing her. In some ways, the show don’t tell works as it pushes you to understand her relationship with her mom and her fears regarding the relationships that may come into her life. However, because she is showing through her work, not through us watching her live, it can feel like you don’t get to know Flannery, just her perspective.

Thus pushing the idea “Wildcat” is set up as it is because the desire was to do an anthology of O’Connor’s short stories, but for whatever reason, that didn’t sell. So, instead, we get a barely-there O’Connor and see how her stories are parallel with her life, leading to what can barely be considered any kind of biopic.

For ultimately, even if we watch how Lupus changed O’Connor’s life, after a certain point, it doesn’t feel like the people behind “Wildcat” wanted her life to matter but the work she produced throughout it. Thus, it leaves us with the ghost of a woman who seemingly wrote out her worst fears to comfort herself or get the maddening feelings out of her head.

Background Information

Film Length 1 Hour 43 Minutes
Date Released April 24, 2024
Where To Watch In Theaters (Early Screening)

Limited Release May 2

Director(s) Ethan Hawke
Writer(s) Shelby Gaines, Ethan Hawke
Based On Work By Flannery O’Connor
Genre(s) Comedy

Drama

Young Adult

Historical

Content Rating Not Rated

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