This shrill and often depressing melodrama from Woody Allen does its cast no favours and results in Allen's worst since 'To Rome with Love'. However if one can remove the script and actors this is one beautiful picture featuring excellent set design, costumes, art direction and stellar cinematography from master Vittorio Storaro. Winslet is wasted here with an underwritten role and the supporting cast flounder.
Sorry McDormand, Streep, Mary J, Rooney, Robin Wright, it will be next to impossible to not give the Oscar to Winslet (and she has two Oscar-worthy performances this year alone: also 'The Mountain Between Us'). She is a powerhouse. I swear this woman emits light in the form of acting radiation. That last sequence has a Garbo-stare quality to it that will haunt you for years. Best actress in the biz, bar N O N E ! <3
Digital. Loquasto's Coney Island's recreation is exquisite but Storaro's obviously saturated cinematography don't reach the level of what he has achieved in Coppola's "One From the Heart"; not even the fact that this overdose of naturalism, sometimes enjoyable, can go beyond a possible Allen's approach to a modus and universe that is his only but here in a secure application mode, equally saturated with music.
I am genuinely shocked by how incredible WONDER WHEEL is. This despite the fact that it is full of, you know, terrible Woody Allen dialogue. Basic dramatic engineering, however: sublime. Though aggressively beholden to theatrical models (O'Neill, Williams, Chayefsky, Odets) it is nonetheless screamingly cinematic. Looks like late Fassbinder, but w/ pinpoint camera moves. Winslet, not exactly bad, is kinda out to sea.
The conundrum continues: should great actors separate the art and the artist and work with Woody Allen on projects hoping to learn of his mastery, or are they complicit with the alleged abuses that have never been brought to trial against the auteur by participating in his creative projects? As for 'Wonder Wheel', neither Allen's worst nor best.
While Wonder Wheel is not nearly as strong as Woody Allen's 2016 film, Café Society, (or his underrated 2015 film, Irrational Man, for that matter) it is still a very enjoyable film that has a strong cast and is ambitious from a formalistic perspective. I loved the way he attempted to meld stage and cinema as one through Storaro's textured cinematography and the stagey way he directs his actors. It's admirable.