In a career spanning 50 years and almost as many features, Woody Allen has periodically refined, reinvented, and redefined the terms of his art, and that’s exactly what he does with his daring new film.
“Wonder Wheel” opens with narration from Mickey, a Coney Island lifeguard played by Justin Timberlake. His tale, he tells us, takes place in Coney Island in “the 1950s.” Mickey tells us a story that just might be filtered through his vivid imagination: a middle-aged carousel operator (James Belushi) and his beleaguered wife (Kate Winslet), who eke out a living on the boardwalk, are visited by his estranged daughter (Juno Temple)—a situation from which layer upon layer of all-too-human complications develop.
Ginny (Kate Winslet): “When it comes to love we all turn out to be our own worst enemy”
Woody Allen is such a genius! At age 82 he continues giving us art, art, and art. His films continue being brilliant, and making us think, feel, smile, and cry. And that’s something for which I will always be thankful to him.
Wonder Wheel is just another jewel of his. The music is beautiful and nostalgic, and the cinematography (Vittorio Storaro: the 3 Oscar-winner cinematographer of Apocalypse Now, Reds, and The Last Emperor -who previously worked with Woody Allen in Café Society) is absolutely brilliant: super long shots, 50-ish colors, big close ups, and a very special light. The story of the film and the feelings of the characters are really well written, and Kate Winslet’s and Jim Belushi’s performances are absolutely amazing. With a taste of Radio Days, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Match Point, Wonder Wheel appears like a jewel in the middle of this cinema age of superhero millionaire productions full of espectacular special effects but empty.
Wonder Wheel is a drama. Nevertheless, there is also a bit of humor inside the catastrophe (that refine humor that Woody Allen knows to tell so well): the son, the fires, the post-session with the psychiatrist…
Allen and his cinematographer, the great Vittorio Storaro, working with a remarkable cast led by Winslet in a startlingly brave, powerhouse performance, have created a bracing and truly surprising movie experience. An Amazon Studios release.