A Bread Factory, Part Two: Walk with Me a While | Chicago Reader

A Bread Factory, Part Two: Walk with Me a While

Patrick Wang’s ambitious two-part feature (2018) suggests the cinematic equivalent of a David Foster Wallace novel, employing a wealth of formal devices, ranging from brilliant to precious, to contemplate what it means to live in modern-day America. Set in an idealized but not implausible everytown, it centers on the longtime director of the local arts center (Tyne Daly) and her actress wife (Elisabeth Henry); the expansive story also considers members of the town school board (which has to vote on whether to cut funding to the arts center), the feisty editor of the community newspaper, some visiting artists, and several kids. In the first and superior part, Wang builds on the understated long-take style of his acclaimed In the Family (2011) by introducing brazenly theatrical devices (Albee-like mannered dialogue, actors breaking the fourth wall); in the second part, he heads full-throttle into theatricality, with musical numbers and a Greek chorus. Throughout Wang demonstrates he’s a gifted, idiosyncratic director of actors, and his patient affection for many of the characters can be disarming, as when one of the main villains of the first part transforms into a lovable supporting character in the second.

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