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Wonder Wheel – Woody Allen at his best

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Wonder Wheel – Woody Allen just turned 82 this month, but he shows no intention of slowing down in his creative work. In fact, he has kept making one movie a year, and almost all of his films made lately are of high quality. (The only one I didn’t like was “Irrational Man,” where the consistency of the plot was broken at the end—the professor should have killed the girl, but that’s another story). Now we’ll have the chance to see his latest film, “Wonder Wheel” to be released this weekend where Allen continues his travel into time periods which he re-creates with much charm. In “Café Society” he had taken us to the Hollywood on the 1930s, now it is that place that evokes images of magic and fun—Coney Island in the 1950s—where he sets this story.

Humpty (Jim Belushi) works at a carousel and would protect his daughter

The title of the film is taken from that famous mechanical piece of the amusement park just in front of the beach. The story is narrated by Mickey (Justin Timberlake), a student of literature who during the summer has taken a job as a lifeguard at the local beach. He lets us know that as a student of European literature he could characterize what would happen next, as having all the elements of melodrama. Carolina (Juno Temple) arrives in Coney Island looking for her father whom she hasn’t seen in years. Humpty (Jim Belushi), her father, is not very happy to see Carolina again, but when she tells him the predicament she faces, he has no choice but to welcome her. His second wife, Ginny (Kate Winslet), would help Carolina to find a job as a waitress at the same clam house where she works. Ginny also has to face the continual mischiefs of her son (by a previous marriage) Richie (Jack Gore), who is a pyromaniac. The little rascal provides most of the funny moments in the story.

Carolina is hiding from some gangsters because she had married one and had talked to the police about them. That’s the underlying drama, but in the meantime, Ginny and Mickey are having an affair that has made the waitress dream of a reborn career as the actress that she claims once was. Things were going well until Mickey meets the younger Carolina, an event that would eventually lead to the unleashing of tragedy.

Ginny (Kate Winslet) is a waitress that suddenly would have big dreams

“Wonder Wheel” makes a very credible re-creation of the period in which it is set, the references to Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams also take the audience to think of the drama atmosphere of those American authors somehow present in the plot. I would recommend this movie for the quality of the story, the photography (the colour also evokes those 1950s films), the elements of subtle irony more than humour, and because it also presents in a precise manner the human features of passion, self-delusion, loyalty, and betrayal.

Feature image: It all starts with the arrival of the beautiful Carolina (Juno Temple) at Coney Island

By: Sergio Martinez – info@mtltimes.ca

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