Writer & Director
(ANNIE HALL, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, CAFE SOCIETY)
Jim Belushi, Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake and Juno Temple
The main attraction at Coney Island amusement park during the 1950’s is the stormy relationship between carousel operator Humpty (Jim Belushi) and his neurotic, unhappy wife, Ginny (Kate Winslet), a former actress who now works as a waitress. There is also a young lifeguard and aspiring writer named Mickey (Justin Timberlake), who narrates this story while keeping the waters of Coney Island safe. When Humpty’s estranged daughter, Carolina (Juno Temple) arrives unannounced at Coney Island seeking refuge from some dangerous men, each of their lives intertwine and are turned upside down in unexpected ways.
This intermittently interesting mild-mannered drama might keep the evergreen career of writer & director Woody Allen turning, however WONDER WHEEL regularly becomes stuck in its own attempts to be a wheel of good fortune.
There are only faint glimpses of the lofty standards that filmmaker Woody Allen can effortlessly reach sighted here. These are briefly spotted when the separate character relationships in the film deepen, as certain substantial developments in the plot are made and while depth is being added to Kate Winslet’s character, Ginny. Even the threat of forthcoming malice from the moment that Humpty’s daughter appears can sporadically add some much-needed edge to the film. But unfortunately, each of these components are short-lived due to several passages of lengthy exchanges of dialogue that rarely build to any part of the story. This is of course a trademark of Woody’s, however in WONDER WHEEL it is often a rotation of endless babble. Furthermore, this film’s later proceedings are disappointingly quite visible from early, which is not what one expects when attending a Woody Allen movie. A vital plot detail concerning the plight of character of Carolina (that won’t be mentioned here) is also inexplicably and unforgivably skipped over. From a production perspective, WONDER WHEEL also lets down. Aside from the opening scene and the occasional shot here and there, more use of such a gorgeous setting during the time depicted was begging to be made. Perhaps the crew were being kept too busy by the strange and unnecessarily distracting lighting cast over the films characters.
Die-hard fans of Woody Allen who will see WONDER WHEEL regardless will at least be somewhat rewarded by a top-notch performance from Kate Winslet.
2 ½ stars
PG (Mild themes, sex scenes and coarse language)
Moviedoc thanks entertainment one for the invite to the screening of this film.
Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc