I generally like Woody Allen’s films, so I wanted to see “Wonder Wheel”, but its lackluster reviews would have kept me from traveling to see it. Luckily, it came to a theater close to me, so I was able to catch it.
Woody Allen’s latest feature Wonder Wheel
I have mixed feelings about the writing of this film. The biggest thing to recognize is that it is more play-like than cinematic. It is set in few, relatively small-scale settings, and is extremely dialogue-oriented. It’s heavily melodramatic, but that is where I am most confused about my feelings. The framing device of the film is that it is a story being told by an aspiring playwright. As such, it almost makes sense that it is play-like and melodramatic, and that decision may be one of brilliance on the part of Allen. On the other hand, it still has those flaws, and as such, may be judged on them. The character development is also a little lacking. All of the characters do things that we as the audience should hate them for, and as such, I didn’t really sympathize with them fully. Additionally, there isn’t a clear protagonist and all of the lead characters suffer as a result.
The film isn’t among the most well-made in Allen’s career, but it still has some solid elements. The production design is certainly worthy of praise. They did a very good job of building the sets and designing the costuming to elicit the image of 1950’s Coney Island. The cinematography is good, too, with some beautiful shots, but the script doesn’t let the film fully utilize the cinematic medium. The music was chosen for the film also does a good job of matching the theme of supposed innocence. To the negative, I felt like the actors all overacted as if it was a stage performance. I also thought that the scenes set in the loft appeared to have their surroundings produced via greenscreen that did not look very impressive.
Overall, I did enjoy “Wonder Wheel”, but I still can’t make a firm decision on whether the melodramatic and play-like nature of the film is a stroke of brilliance or an unfortunate occurrence. For now, I’ll have to settle for something in-between. This movie was “Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy”.
This review was written by Big Tuna of the Big Tuna on Film Blog. Make sure to check out the site for more great reviews!