The carousel of live (Wonder Wheel movie review)

In “Wonder Wheel” its director – Woody Allen – takes us back to the 50s, but the trip, despite of great, climatic views, is rather disappointing.  The movie tells story of four characters whose roads and lives are intertwined in the famous Coney Island theme park. Kate Winselt plays an emotionally unstable, former actress Ginny, who now works as a waitress. Jim Belushi becomes her husband Humpty, who makes his living from operating the carousel. Justin Timberlake plays Mickey – a very handsome lifeguard, who dreams of a career of a playwright. Juno Temple is his prodigal daughter Carolina, who in her father’s house hides from dangerous gangsters. As you can see – Allen once again invites the audience to his favourite types of characters who struggle with their everyday lives that are not close enough to the world of art as they would like them to be.

On the technical level “Wonder Wheel” is really good – very précised and consistent. The director, who wants to come back to the past, not only builds a nostalgic atmosphere for those old times that are long gone, but – thanks to movies – exists in common imagination, but also – are above all – brings back to life the way of telling stories in the 1950s and creates a movie that is not an imitation, but a recall of past century.

Juno Temple and Justin Timberlake in the roles of the protagonists seem to be walking embodiments of the Hollywood Golden Age, which is interesting and wearisome at the same time. The decision of turning characters into representations of some stereotypical types is always risky and tricky and can work only if the movie breaks the schemes and proposes something more than a predictability of a sentimental comedy. Unfortunately, in “Wonder Wheel” Allen doesn’t do much about characterological figures that he puts on the first plan and they become nothing but another brick in a wall of a run of the mill script.

What’s important, it’s not like the director has run of ideas and had to create a movie from nothing. On the contrary – the scenario seems to be overloaded with different concepts, themes and threads, but, unfortunately, there is no method in this madness.

The story that we follow is as complex as a story can get. Allen wants to talk about mistakes of the youths and their painful consequences that cannot be erased; about bitterness of disappointments and dreams that were destroyed because of one’s fault (and not because of the universe’s malice); about the pain of superficial existence and – last but not least – about desperation that makes you compromises even about the most important, the most meaningful things in life that define all of the future roads. As you can see, Allen tries to makes notes on all of possible disasters of the late (post)modernity. The problem is – when you want to talk about everything, you usually talk about nothing. And that’s the case here.

The main problem is that the director only sketches his characters and makes them look as they are missing souls.

The movie “Wonder Wheel” is fulfilled with great twists and intrestung, monentary deeply moving dialogues. Unfortunately, the director does not turn out to be brave enough to stay and celebrate summer and that’s why he invites me for more.