Woody Allen's WONDER WHEEL
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This movie takes place in 1950's Coney Island. It tells the story of a waitress wife (Kate Winslet) who is married to a ne'er-do-well husband (Jim Belushi) and her affair with a younger summer lifeguard (Justin Timberlake). For good measure there's a mob-based sub-plot that kicks in when the husband's long-lost daughter (Juno Temple) turns up seeking asylum.
All is backed by an amazingly detailed and garish recreation of what it's like to live in the midst of a deteriorating amusement park coupled with stunning color photography and (after all, this is a Woody Allen movie) period popular music on the soundtrack.
Winslet in my opinion is one of the most accomplished and intelligent actors today. Her range is amazing from fierce intelligence (e.g., see The Dressmaker and A Little Chaos) to movies like Wonder Wheel and miniseries like Mildred Pierce. She throws everything she has into the role and it shows.
Actually, everyone is terrific, Belushi and Timberlake included. What might have been a low level steamy potboiler is elevated by the performances and by well crafted and sometimes farcical dialog that in lesser hands might have sounded sophomoric. But somehow Allen and the cast pull it off with the icing on the cake being the amazing range of colors displayed by sunsets and by the amusement park's own lighting.
Review copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald