“It was like having a nuclear weapon at my disposal.” The words are Woody Allen and the weapon is Kate Winslet, absolutely great in the filmmaker’s new film. Wonder Wheel, an exercise in tragedy with a theatrical drama vocation, set in Coney Island in the 50s and disguised as the fantasy that promises its amusement park, was born amid unpleasant turbulence, punctuated by allegations of sexual harassment of the last months that have resurrected Allen’s personal past.
In a dark tone, in which the phantom of disappointment plans and where the characters live overwhelmed by the failure or halfway to it, Wonder Wheel has not completely convinced the criticism – there are exceptions – that it has been criticized as old and without heart This adverse current, agitated in the swirls of the debate on sexual abuse, does not favor the film, whose premiere was already postponed in October in the USA. not to coincide exactly with the scandal carried out by Harvey Weinstein.
Flashes of talent
Now, when he begins his journey of European premieres, by countries of Latin America and Asia, the adopted daughter of Allen, Dylan Farrow has written an article – “Why the #MeToo revolution has saved Woody Allen?” – with which trip to the rooms of Wonder Wheel. The names of Ellen Page, Jessica Chastain and Susan Sarandon, actresses who have refused to work with Allen, coexist in the press around the world with that of Kate Winslet, who in an interview confessed that she had accepted the role “when I gave I realized that I did not know if all those accusations were true or false.”
While the filmmaker solves, confronts or hides – impossible to affirm – these accusations, his new film is installed in cinemas and is again the work of a great creator who, although not among the best of his filmography, has flashes of his talent and, above all, has an overwhelming interpretation of his leading actress. Wonder Wheel is Kate Winslet .
A game of contrasts
“What we were trying to do with this film was to create a theatrical drama,” explained Woody Allen, who locks up his characters in the bright, sunny world of the Coney Island amusement park, to darken it with the darkest face of disappointment, the lack of love, despair, failure, jealousy… A game of contrasts in which the collaboration of one of the greats, the director of photography Vittorio Storaro, is essential.
“What we were trying to do with this movie was to create a theatrical drama”
Ginny, a former actress, who probably was not too good, now works as a waitress in a fish restaurant and lives in the park married to Humpty, the mechanic of the carousel, who does not love, and his son, a small arsonist he looks for a refuge in the cinema before the world. The illusion reappears when he meets Mickey, a handsome lifeguard who dreams of becoming a playwright, although he may not have enough talent. The fourth character of the tragedy is Carolina, the daughter of Humpty, who left home long ago to marry a mobster and now returns.
The new Blanche DuBois
Justin Timberlake deals with the character of Mickey, in some way a reflection of Allen himself who has confessed many times to want to be “Chekhov or Sophocles”. Jim Belushi is Humpty, a man miserable and bored with reality, a hugely human character thanks to the actor. And Juno Temple is Carolina who, in her youth, lives on the run. And above all of them, Kate Winslet, a woman who is sinking in her own despair and who ends up crushed by the evidence of failure and jealousy.
“Ginny feels consumed by both feelings: her own jealousy and the feeling that she is being decentered. Then the jealousy ignites and ends up going crazy. There are no other words: it ends up going crazy. “And then Kate Winslet becomes a new Blanche DuBois ( a streetcar named desire ), drunk, alienated, reflecting in a mirror her defeat with the best dresses of her happy past, clinging to madness to not return to the real world.
“I was terrified because I did not know where to start and I thought that if I failed I would never forgive myself. I had to take responsibility for giving life to a character that was complex, avoiding falling into a cliché, keeping me above a drawn line, getting it to be real, not a caricature and that was anchored in its sad reality. Woody wanted to give me the role and I had to be at the height of the stake and become what he expected, and be the best possible version that he expected, taking it out of me, “said Winslet, who dazzles with his sadness and its extravagant tragic ending, shining more than the lights and neons of the mythical Coney Island Ferris wheel.