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Wonder Wheel (2017)

Wonder Wheel.jpg

Let me get to the story in which I am a character, so, be warned, as a poet, I use symbols, and as a budding dramatist, I relish melodrama and larger-than-life characters. Enter Carolina…In 1950s Coney Island Ginny (Kate Winslet) is an emotionally volatile former actress now working as a waitress in a clam house and married to Humpty (Jim Belushi), a rough-hewn carousel operator who is stepfather to Ginny’s firebug son by her first husband. She’s having an affair with Mickey (Justin Timberlake) a handsome young lifeguard who dreams of becoming a playwright.  Ginny’s life is turned upside down when Humpty’s estranged daughter Carolina (Juno Temple) from his previous marriage turns up in order to hide out from her gangster husband after giving evidence to the FBI. When Carolina meets Mickey the attraction is immediate and Ginny’s plans to leave Humpty are thrown into disarray … Everybody dies. You can’t walk around thinking about it/You’re talking to a lifeguard.  A tonally awkward and restive work from Woody Allen in which Winslet’s heavy approach shifts the emphasis to Ibsen while everyone else is playing light. (To be fair, the material starts out as a very theatrical setup with poorly staged monologues.) Vittorio Storaro’s odd cinematography with its use of orange and green filters doesn’t help the strangely altering atmosphere. However the film improves overall as it goes along, save for Winslet’s inappropriate pitch, especially when some of the Sopranos goons show up. Timberlake is okay as the Allen avatar, narrating to camera and breaking the fourth wall to put a quasi-dramatic spin on events as he pursues his ‘Masters in European Drama’ but a guy in an auteurist film from Allen falling for a mother and her daughter? I know it’s set at the beach, but it’s still rings too close to home and I don’t mean mine. You’ve been round the world/But you’ve been round the block

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

3 responses to “Wonder Wheel (2017)

  1. ozflicks

    Hi Elaine, Another good review, with all your trademark wit.

    As a long-time Woody fan (particularly of the early funny ones), I’ve been keeping up with his films out of habit, but the misses are outnumbering the hits more and more these days. Thematically, this was like Blue Jasmine (which I liked) in all its Tennessee Williamsy melodrama, but overall reminded me more of Cafe Society (which I didn’t like) in that, despite the beautiful reproduction of an era, the writing seemed poor and somewhat contrived, and I couldn’t relate to the characters.

    • Less witty, more weary, I’m afraid. It was all over the place, wasn’t it, with more references to his recent ‘fails’ in terms of the tropes and ideas or steals. It was theatrical in the worst way and I’m afraid the Mia/Soonyi analogy just tees me off. I still love HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, BROADWAY DANNY ROSE and LOVE AND DEATH. This is the same guy, after all!!!

      • ozflicks

        I liked most of the Diane Keaton films (esp. Annie Hall and Love and Death), and disliked most of the Mia ones (except Hannah and Purple Rose and a couple of others) and liked a few of the others

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