Wonder Wheel (2017)
Wonder Wheel is an amusement park without amusement.
What is Woody doing? Who is the audience for this awkward faux pas?
Even die-hard fans of Woody Allen should be perplexed.
Woody has a broad spectrum of movies, including the severe Ingmar Bergmanesque Interiors (1978) and the ironic Hitchcockian Match Point (2005). Usually he delivers, but Wonder Wheel is muddled and plodding.
Wonder Wheel is Tennessee Williams meets the Coney Island Shore meets an octogenarian director. [Wonder Wheel's major release, set for December 1, was Woody's 82nd birthday.]
It's usually fairly easy to relate to Woody's characters and films. One could even relate to the confused Jasmine in Blue Jasmine (2013); Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for that performance.
Kate Winslet is no Cate Blanchett, but her character Ginny in Wonder Wheel is no Jasmine, either. Jasmine was provocative; Ginny simply is a loser. She becomes a harridan, but a predictable, dull one, at that.
Wonder Wheel, set in the 1950s, is the melodramatic tale of a strung quartet. It begins with narration by Mickey (Justin Timberlake), a lifeguard at Coney Island. He's pretty much a prop.
He's having an affair with Ginny (Winslet), an older woman who is married to Humpty (Jim Belushi) and lives a life of drudgery at their Coney Island digs and works as a waitress.
Ginny is a former actress who took a stage name as Delorean. It seems as though Allen is going to explore what is real. But the characters' illusions and pipe dreams are never developed beyond contrivance.
When Mickey finally faces Ginny in a moment of truth, it has no resonance at all.
Also on the premises is Carolina (Juno Temple), the runaway spouse of a gangster.
She should run away from this movie. As should the audience.
Woody is too slow to catch us.