Off the bat, not really a Woody Allen film. Seen so many of his films and for the most part do not care for most of them. His best film by far for me is Blue Jasmine; an excellent character study with a riveting performance by a great Cate Blanchett. I was going to give Wonder Wheel a go just to see if I would once again find a rare Woody Allen film worth caring about. Nope, not this time. In fact Wonder Wheel is messy and doesn’t do much to satisfy its viewers.
Wonder Wheel is about 26 year old girl who returns to Coney Island to live with her dad and stepmom after becoming a “marked woman” when she becomes at odds with her mob involved boyfriend. Her stepmom is having a secret affair with a local lifeguard and the addition of her stepdaughter brings forth complications as she also falls for the lifeguard and a love triangle emerges. The story of the film is what it is and isn’t exactly interesting. Even for Allen, this film is a disappointment and is low on thought and creativity.
Some positives first; fantastic cinematography. Most of Coney Island pops out at you and the scenes with neon lights shining on characters faces looks gorgeous. Another distinct positive is the performance of both Jim Belushi and Kate Winslet. Both actors remain committed to the script and give very strong performances. The fun ends there. There are stretches in the film where I was bored. Timberlake was an odd choice for the film and it showed. The film’s writing is unremarkable and feels like a simple hash of something bereft of creativity. The mob hunting part of the film gets lost in the shuffle because it takes a back seat to a love triangle that you won’t care for.
I definitely don’t like Woody Allen as a filmmaker and like him even less as a filmmaker. However, I will give due when I see something good. This is not the case with Wonder Wheel. Apart from looking lovely and being well acted the film has nothing going for it and you feel like this is one of the worst Allen films in quite some time. Somebody needs to tell Woody Allen that he doesn’t need to release a film every year and can take some time off to get some creativity going.