Successful and wealthy litigator Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston) suffers a nervous breakdown and decides to hide out in the family attic for several months. During these months, Howard observes his family continuing their lives without him and as time passes by his behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and he often wonders whether he can return back to his old life (or indeed if he wants to)...
Wakefield bravely tries to tackle a rather complex issue - one of a man suffering a nervous breakdown which I suppose could be classed as a mental health issue. Howard, for me, was a rather complex character with a torrent of varying emotions - Cranston does an excellent job in trying to give some depth to his character. The issue I had is that I didn't find that the narrative had any real depth; the focus is on Howard spying on his family, but I found that the cause of his nervous breakdown was glossed over meaning that I could never identify with or really understand Howard's motivations. The film also doesn't show anything from his wife's perspective - Howard's narration gives us an idea of what she may be thinking, but more input or insight from her as a character might have made the film a tad more involving.
Other more notable flaws/issues with this film lay with believability; I found it hard to believe that Howard could manage to hide out in his attic for months on end without being spotted by his family or any of his neighbours at any point - considering how often he is roaming around outside. Also I find it hard to believe that no-one would think to look in the attic at any point to see if he was hiding out in there? He steals food and drink from his own home, but his wife doesn't notice at any point. The idea of him also surviving for so long by eating thrown away leftovers is also something of a stretch in credibility.
The main selling point with this film is Cranston; he gives the best performance by a mile and his multi-layered performance does make this film more tolerable than it otherwise would have been. Garner is OK, but she's given too little to work with to make an impression on the picture and the same can be said of the supporting cast.
Wakefield for me was a disappointment and something of a missed opportunity - the script lacked the complexity and insight necessary to make this a good character study. I do like the idea of a man looking into his own life from the outside and seeing what life is like for his family without him being around (there are actually shades of It's a Wonderful Life in this film), but with so little depth to the script I basically found myself watching Cranston spying on Garner which after a while became rather one-note and tiresome.