Wonder Wheel Blu-ray Review
Coney Island, the 1950s. The beach and boardwalk are bustling with young lovers, middle-aged husbands and wives and anyone else who can’t stay away from the sand, water and thieving games.
We are introduced to the scene by Mickey Rubin (Justin Timberlake, TROLLS), a lifeguard who also attends NYU, where he studies European drama and ones day hopes to write a “profound masterpiece.” Clad in his lifeguard attire, the budding poet goes into the story, entering Carolina (Juno Temple, ONE PERCENT MORE HUMID). Carolina is looking for shelter from her gangster husband. Her best place to turn, she feels, is her father, Humpty (Jim Belushi, SOLLERS POINT), and his wife, Ginny (Kate Winslet, THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US).
Mickey interjects to inform the audience (yes, he, like a number of male leads in Woody Allen movies, breaks the fourth wall) that he is having an affair with Ginny. Predictably, (this is, after all, a Woody Allen picture), a love triangle forms, with the third party being Carolina. Who will end up with who? Who will sleep with the fishes?
WONDER WHEEL is Allen’s 2017 entry, meaning it’s his 18th movie of the century. And it, like some of the recent lame additions (TO ROME WITH LOVE, CAFE SOCIETY), is certainly far from being a “profound masterpiece.” One of the main problems here is that it’s just hard to really care. Sure, Ginny deserves a happier existence away from her heavy-drinking husband, more cooperation from her pyromaniac son and the luxury of not being hunter by gangsters (here played by SOPRANOS alum Tony Sirico and Steve Schirippa, which is sort of amusing and yet sort of lazy). But she’s not a terribly complex character and she’s awfully irritating, which, considering the other characters she’s surrounded by, actually makes her a snug fit.
Allen fails to mold fascinating characters and scenarios here, diving back to familiar territory of New York (it’s been some time since he set a movie entirely in his beloved home), tortured lovers and intellectuals who try their hardest in life when trying to speak like intellectuals. Some of this will be comforting to part of his fanbase, while others will be fed up and wonder how much steam the octogenarian has left. (For what it’s worth, this reviewer can only count two truly great films from him this century–MATCH POINT and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS–although there are certainly other strong entries–VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA and the underrated IRRATIONAL MAN.)
Still, Allen knows what he wants. And, in part through collaborating with cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (who previously worked with Allen on CAFE SOCIETY (and will lens his upcoming A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK), he can capture an era and a feeling in a most gorgeous way, so rich in color and detail that the movie stands as one of Allen’s most visually appealing works of his career.
Video: 2:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer looks quite nice, highlighting the wonderful cinematography of Vittorio Storaro.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English. Dialogue is clean and music cues play nicely.
The Cast and Crew Discuss Making WONDER WHEEL (3:11): Kate Winslet, Jim Belushi, Juno Temple and Justin Timberlake touch on WONDER WHEEL at a red carpet event.