Wonder Wheel (2017)

PG-13   |    |  Drama


Wonder Wheel (2017) Poster

On Coney Island in the 1950s, a lifeguard tells the story of a middle-aged carousel operator, his beleaguered wife, and the visitor who turns their lives upside-down.


6.2/10
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9 December 2017 | boblipton
7
| Eugene O'Neill Anyone?
These days, even the college-educated don't recognize the classics. Spike Lee can film LYSISTRATA, but so long as he moves it to Chicago and calls it CHI-RAQ, no one makes the connection. Instead, they complain that he is slandering Chicago. Well, no doubt, that's what the municipal authorities said about Aristophanes at the time. In this movie, Juno Temple flees from her mobster husband to take refuge with her alcoholic father, James Belushi, and step-mother, Kate Winslett and her pyromaniac son from her first marriage; they've got marginal jobs. The story is told from the viewpoint of Justin Timberlake, who spent the war in the navy. Now he's a lifeguard, studying to be a playwright, conducting an affair with Miss Winslett and falling in love with Miss Temple.

Woody Allen's script makes several references to Eugene O'Neill, and were they living on Nantucket and complaining about how their lives were ruined because the father had made too much money playing the Count of Monte Cristo to attend to his art, everyone would recognize this as LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT. However, Mr. Allen has set it in the neighborhood he grew up in and made the fact that they're so broke they're living in a bankrupt freak show house an important plot point, so this will either be overlooked or seen as blasphemy.

This is one of Mr. Allen's serious movies. I join the general population in not being as fond of those as the ones that make me laugh out loud. Yet I take a good deal of pleasure in his recreation of 1950s Coney Island (although his "Greenwich Village hovel" is remarkably clean for the era) and his clear-eyed vision of a world, now vanished, that existed more surely than the one I live in now sometimes seems to.

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