SFCS: Dreamin’ Wild

Dreamin' Wild

USA | 2022 | 110 min. | Bill Pohlad

December 7, 2023

Seattle Film Critics Society PNW Awards

In this Spokane-shot drama from director Bill Pohlad (Love & Mercy), Oscar® winner Casey Affleck plays Donnie Emerson, half of the musical duo the Emerson Brothers, who finds fame and purpose decades after he thought his career was over.

Straight outta Fruitland in eastern Washington's Stevens County came Donnie and Joe Emerson, farm boys and aspiring rockers whose father, believing wholeheartedly in their talent and drive, paid $100K to build them a recording studio right there on his property. The result was 1979's "Dreamin' Wild," an album which garnered approximately no attention at all. (Admittedly, the Tiger Beat-esque cover doesn't help, making the pair look like slightly louche Osmonds.) Until 2008, that is, when a record collector found it at an antique shop and spread the word online, captivating fans of outsider music and making it a rediscovered cult favorite, its blue-eyed, bedroom-voiced funk made even more haunting by its DIY spareness. A cover by Ariel Pink and a reissue by Light in the Attic Records, both in 2012, finally brought the Emersons the fame that had unfairly eluded them 33 years earlier—and now, in their third act, their whole story is being told by director Bill Pohlad with a starry cast that includes Casey Affleck and Walton Goggins as the adult Emersons, Zooey Deschanel as Donnie's wife Nancy, and Beau Bridges as the selfless, unassuming farmer who now nearly a half-century later is starting to see some return on his quixotic investment.

Gavin Borchert

  • Director: Bill Pohlad
  • Principal Cast: Casey Affleck, Noah Jupe, Zooey Deschanel, Walton Goggins, Beau Bridges
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2022
  • Running Time: 110 min.
  • Producer: Jim Burke, Kim Roth, Bill Pohlad, Viviana Vezzani, Karl Spoerri
  • Screenplay: Bill Pohlad
  • Cinematographers: Arnaud Potier
  • Editors: Annette Davey
  • Music: Donnie Emerson
  • Filmography: Love & Mercy (2014), Old Explorers (1990)
  • Language: English
  • US Distributor: Roadside Attractions
  • International Sales: CAA