Wonder Wheel

‘Wonder Wheel’ is the latest production from writer/director Woody Allen. Many of his films have garnered huge praise over the decades, with the evergreen helmer showing no signs of slowing down. Whilst his personal life has made headlines for all the wrong reasons, professionally his work has stood the test of time. He isn’t one to suddenly change his creative spots and ‘Wonder Wheel’ is no different. As interesting and engaging is previous movies, ‘Wonder Wheel’ spins a web in the uniquely engrossing Allen style.

Ginny (Kate Winslet) is the wife of carousel operator Humpty (Jim Belushi). Living the life of a carnival spouse on Coney Island during the 1950’s, Ginny becomes bored. When Mickey (Justin Timberlake), a lifeguard, suddenly arrives on the scene Ginny’s world is turned upside down. It becomes further askew when Humpty’s daughter Carolina (Juno Temple) arrives and also falls for Mickey. Throw in a cabal of dangerous criminals from Carolina’s past, the possibility for a less than idyllic existence dramatically increases.

‘Wonder Wheel’ is vintage Allen. Whilst it isn’t consistently hilarious and certainly isn’t a comedy, his gift in digging deeply into his characters remains. Winslet delivers a powerhouse performance as Ginny, a neurotic housewife desperate for escape. Although living in a world of delivering fantasy to the masses, her desires for her own fantasies lead to a path of emotional turmoil. Allen knows how to wring a lot from his fine ensemble who successfully conveys the fears and frustrations of their roles with occasional actor Timberlake effectively mirroring Winslet’s acting talent.

Another star of ‘Wonder Wheel’ is cinematographer Vittorio Storaro who brings the 1950’s seaside to colourful life. This is one of the few recent Allen films to fully embrace the surrounds in which his characters live with the sometimes stagey feel of his stories opened up more here. Although his movies can be an acquired taste, Allen knows how to write a captivating story such as ‘Wonder Wheel’. His characters may be ones you would avoid at any cost in real life, he makes you care what happens to them with the film’s dreamily lush look adding to the script’s atmosphere.

Allen’s films have been described as cinematic works of art. ‘Wonder Wheel’ certainly looks dazzling and adds another creative feather to the Allen repertoire. Those who have followed his work for years should be satisfied with his latest with his skills for strong characterisation still intact.

Rating out of 10: 7

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