Wildcat parents guide

Wildcat Parent Guide

This niche film will fascinate devotees of American literature but is unlikely to have mass appeal.

Overall B-

Theaters: Explores the life of celebrated Southern Gothic writer Flannery O'Connor as she struggles to publish her first novel while balancing her faith, health, and her relationship with her mother.

Release date May 31, 2024

Violence B-
Sexual Content C
Profanity B
Substance Use B-

Why is Wildcat rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Wildcat Not Rated

Run Time: 133 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Flannery O’Connor (Maya Hawke) has big plans for her life. An aspiring writer, she recently won a writing competition sponsored by a publishing house in New York City - but a meeting with her publisher makes it clear that literary success won’t come easily. Flannery is dismayed by her publisher’s insistence that she produce an outline for her work. It is clear to her that they are uncomfortable with the deliberately different style of her writing, and she is unwilling to sacrifice her style.

What Flannery doesn’t know yet is that bigger sacrifices are coming: she has been diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disorder which leaves her in incredible pain and unable to travel. Stuck inside her mother, Regina’s (Laura Linney) home in a small Georgia town, Flannery continues to write and consider her relationship with her Roman Catholic faith.

In an unusual twist, Flannery’s stories comprise most of the film. I would estimate that at least 60% of the runtime consists of forays into O’Connor’s short fiction. That’s not a complaint: I hadn’t read any of her work before watching the film, but I found it thought-provoking. (Bear in mind that I majored in English Lit in university, so this is kind of my wheelhouse.) Those of you less interested in Southern Gothic literature, or indeed, literature of any kind, might find the screenplay confusing. The narrative doesn’t always announce when it’s going to dip into a short story, and since those vignettes recycle the main cast, it’s not always immediately apparent when and where you are.

If you’re looking for guidance on suitable audiences, let me be clear that this is a film for mature viewers only. Beyond the fact that I’ve never met a child who would want to watch a story like this, there are more good reasons not to watch it with the kiddos. Most of them have to do with the sexual content which, while far from explicit, is more suitable for older audiences. You can also expect to see a fair amount of social drinking and regular cigarette smoking – this is the 1950’s, after all, and that’s to be expected. On the other hand, profanity and violence are extremely limited.

I don’t expect Wildcat to turn into a mainstream box office hit anytime soon, but for my crowd of weird short fiction aficionados, English majors, and unusual film fans I’d say it’s worth watching. If nothing else, you might find some new books out of the deal – I found the film interesting enough that I’m planning to pick some of O’Connor’s writing from the public library. Coming from someone sitting on a “to be read” pile slightly taller than the tower of Babel, that ought to tell you something. Mostly that I’m going to die still behind on my reading.

Directed by Ethan Hawke. Starring Maya Hawke, Laura Linney, Philip Ettinger. Running time: 133 minutes. Theatrical release May 31, 2024. Updated

Watch the trailer for Wildcat

Rating & Content Info

Why is Wildcat rated Not Rated? Wildcat is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence: A dead body is seen at a murder scene. A person is beaten with a broomstick.
Sexual Content: People are shown kissing and undressing, without visible nudity. A sexual encounter involves a woman and a married man. There are several references to sexual behaviour.
Profanity: There is occasional use of mild curses and terms of deity, as well as racial slurs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen drinking and smoking tobacco.

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Wildcat Parents' Guide

You can learn more about Flannery O’Connor below:

Wikipedia: Flannery O’Connor

PBS: How did Flannery O’Connor’s writing reflect her disability?


Loved this movie? Try these books…

If you want to learn more about the author’s life, you can try The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O’Connor by Jonathan Rogers. Brad Gooch is the author of Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor.

For a comprehensive look at her work, you can read Collected Works of Flannery O’Connor. You can also peruse Flannery O’Connor’s works online:

Internet Archive: Flannery O'Connor The Complete Stories

HCC Learning Web: A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

Project Gutenberg Canada: Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Project Gutenberg Canada: The Violent Bear It Away

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Other literary biopics include Kill Your Darlings, Tolkien, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Emily, Capote, and, in a rare family-friendly option, Saving Mr. Banks. If you like narrative interwoven with other tales, you might also enjoy Three Thousand Years of Longing.