Wonder Wheel (film)

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Wonder Wheel
Wonderwheelfilmposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by
Written by Woody Allen
Starring
Cinematography Vittorio Storaro
Edited by Alisa Lepselter
Production
company
  • Gravier Productions
  • Perdido Productions
Distributed by Amazon Studios
Release date
  • October 14, 2017 (2017-10-14) (NYFF)
  • December 1, 2017 (2017-12-01) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[2]
Box office $15.4 million[3]

Wonder Wheel is a 2017 American period drama film written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring Jim Belushi, Kate Winslet, Juno Temple, and Justin Timberlake. The film is set in the early 1950s at an amusement park on Coney Island, and named for the park's Ferris wheel. The story follows the second wife and the estranged daughter of a carousel operator as they both pursue affairs with a life guard.[4]

The film served as the closing night selection at the 55th New York Film Festival, on October 14, 2017,[5] and was released on December 1, 2017, by Amazon Studios.[6]

Plot[edit]

Mickey Rubin, a Coney Island life guard with aspirations to be a playwright like Eugene O'Neill, narrates through the fourth wall. Carolina, the daughter of Humpty Rannell, arrives at the boardwalk looking for Ginny Rannell, her father's second wife who works as a waitress at the clam shack. She begs Ginny to let her live with them, but Ginny leaves it up to Humpty, who angrily kicked her out when she married her mobster boyfriend Frank and threw away her college education and chance for a better life. Carolina tells him she is on the run from Frank, who she believes wants to kill her because she gave evidence of mob activity to the FBI. Humpty lets her stay, on the condition that she saves money to return to college and better her life. Ginny gets her a waitress job where she works.

Ginny used to be an actress and was happily married, but caused her husband to divorce her by being unfaithful. She and Humpty are raising her young son Ritchie, a troubled boy who habitually gets in trouble by setting fires. She is unhappy with Humpty and living on the boardwalk, and has been carrying on an affair with Mickey for a few months. Humpty is an angry and loud recovering alcoholic who runs the Carousel ride, and goes fishing with his friends to bring dinner home. But he starts to find more joy and patience for life with Carolina around, and he pays for her to go to night school.

Mickey is attracted to Ginny because of her age and experience, and because he views her as a damsel in need of saving. He and Carolina accidentally meet some time later, and he becomes attracted by Carolina's story. He thinks he is in love with her, but is conflicted with his feelings for Ginny. Ginny steals money from Humpty to buy Mickey an expensive watch as a birthday present, which he refuses to accept. By this time, Ginny has become suspicious of Mickey's feelings for Carolina and is jealous.

Mobsters Angelo and Nick come around, asking Humpty, and the owner of the clam shack, about Carolina's whereabouts. Carolina takes Mickey on a date to a Brooklyn pizza parlor, and her boss innocently tells this to Angelo and Nick. Ginny telephones the pizza parlor to warn Carolina but begins to stutter, realizing her opportunity to have Carolina away from Mickey, and hangs up. Mickey tells Carolina the whole truth about his feelings for her and his affair. Instantly feeling compassionate for everyone involved, Carolina decides to walk home alone to process the information and decide what she should do, not wanting to hurt Ginny or her father or Mickey. We see Angelo and Nick's car following her as she leaves the pizza parlor.

When Carolina does not come home, Humpty asks Mickey the next day if he saw her after the date. Mickey investigates, and finds out Ginny called the pizza parlor but did not speak. Piecing it together, he confronts Ginny, who has started drinking and getting made up in one of her glamorous stage costumes. She pulls a knife out of the drawer and asks Mickey to kill her, but he leaves. Humpty comes back, sinking back into alcoholism after the police found no trace of Carolina, and tells Ginny he needs her help again to function in life. He tries to find a positive outlook and invites her to meet his friends' wives on a fishing trip, but she coldly refuses, keeping their rut in life status quo.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Casting[edit]

Kate Winslet was the first actor who came on board for the film, in July 2016,[7][8] followed by Juno Temple and Jim Belushi.[9] Allen, describing the casting process, said that, "The first person I cast was Kate Winslet, then I cast a young girl named Juno Temple who I thought very much of," and "I cast Jim Belushi who I thought was absolutely perfect for it."[10] Talking about the film, Winslet – who was previously attached to Allen's 2005 drama film Match Point but left the project to spend more time with her family – said, "I play the lead. My character is called Ginny, and she's a waitress in a clam house... It was probably like the second most stressful part I've ever played, but the experience itself was just utterly incredible."[11]

Allen later signed Justin Timberlake in the role of a lifeguard,[12][13] saying that "I was doing this film and I thought, who could I get that would be an interesting guy to play a lifeguard in about 1950? I was sitting and talking with my brain trust. Someone said, 'What about Justin Timberlake?'"[10] On August 19, 2016, Tony Sirico joined the cast.[14] In September 2016, Jack Gore, Steve Schirripa, and Max Casella rounded out the cast of the film.[15][16][17]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began in Coney Island on September 15, 2016.[18] On the same day, filming took place at Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn around Hudson Avenue and Gold Street.[19] Timberlake and Temple were spotted filming at Brighton Beach on September 16, 2016,[20] and Winslet and Timberlake filmed scenes at Coney Island on September 19, 2016.[21]

Release[edit]

The film premiered as the closing film of the New York Film Festival on October 14, 2017. It was theatrically released on December 1, 2017, the same day as Allen's 82nd birthday.[6]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Wonder Wheel grossed $1.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $13.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $14.9 million.[3]

In the United States the film made $125,570 from five theaters in its opening weekend (an average of $25,114), marking a 61% drop from Café Society's debut the previous year.[22]

In France, the film was released on January 31, 2018 and sold 20,147 tickets on its opening day, marking the lowest of any Allen film in over 15 years.[23]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 30% based on 180 reviews, with an average rating of 5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Wonder Wheel gathers a charming cast in an inviting period setting, but they aren't enough to consistently breathe life into a Woody Allen project that never quite comes together."[24] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[25]

Graham Fuller for Screen International wrote a positive review, praising Allen, "It would be going too far to say Wonder Wheel is an instant Woody Allen classic, but it’s a reminder that he’s still a force to be reckoned with."[26]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave Wonder Wheel three out of four stars, and lauded Winslet's performance, writing "there are valid criticisms of Wonder Wheel as a film that feels more like a stage play – its claustrophobic atmosphere can be stifling. But even covering familiar ground, Allen finds the blunt truth at its core. As Ginny is stripped of her fantasies and exposed to the harsh glare of reality, Winslet stands her ground, as if to say attention must be paid. It should be. Her performance is absolutely astounding."[27]

Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Chris Nash found the film to be relatively weak, giving it a C- rating, and stating: "The love triangle is stagy and unfolds with way too many complications and betrayals. It's undercooked even by the filmmaker's own late-career standards. Yes, Coney Island has never looked more gorgeously golden-hued (thanks to cinematographer Vittorio Storaro), but Allen has seldom been less sharp."[28]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
Hollywood Film Awards November 4, 2017 Hollywood Actress Award Kate Winslet Won [29]
St. Louis Film Critics Association December 10, 2017 Best Cinematography Vittorio Storaro Nominated [30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Wonder Wheel". New York Film Festival. Film Society of Lincoln Center. Retrieved September 18, 2017. 
  2. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (July 18, 2016). "Amazon in Talks to Fully Finance Next Woody Allen Film for $25M (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Wonder Wheel". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved April 12, 2018. 
  4. ^ Ellwood, Gregory (May 12, 2016). ""I said everything I could say": Woody Allen hasn't read Ronan Farrow's op-ed and doesn't plan to". Vox. Vox Media. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel Will Close NYFF55". New York Film Festival. Film Society of Lincoln Center. July 27, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Lang, Brent (June 12, 2017). "Woody Allen's 'Wonder Wheel' Scores December Release (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 12, 2017. 
  7. ^ Smith, Nigel M. (June 15, 2016). "Kate Winslet to be cast in Woody Allen's next film". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  8. ^ Ford, Rebecca (June 21, 2016). "Kate Winslet Joining Woody Allen's Next Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  9. ^ McNary, Dave (July 6, 2016). "Jim Belushi Joins Kate Winslet in Woody Allen's New Movie". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b Nepales, Ruben V. (July 21, 2016). "Woody Allen on casting Justin Timberlake, directing 'Café Society' for 'nothing'". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  11. ^ Weil, Jennifer (April 21, 2017). "Style sightings: Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts and Penélope Cruz attend Lancôme dinner in Monaco". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 22, 2017. 
  12. ^ Smith, Nigel M. (July 7, 2016). "Justin Timberlake to join Kate Winslet in Woody Allen's 48th film". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  13. ^ Smith, Nigel M. (June 21, 2016). "Kate Winslet to be cast in Woody Allen's next film". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  14. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. (August 19, 2016). "Tony Sirico Joins Woody Allen's Next Film". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 23, 2016. 
  15. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 9, 2016). "'Billions' Actor Jack Gore Joins Kate Winslet in Woody Allen's Next Film". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  16. ^ Pedersen, Erik (September 23, 2016). "Steven Schirripa Joins Next Woody Allen Movie, Setting Up 'Sopranos' Reunion". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 17, 2018. 
  17. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (September 28, 2016). "Max Casella Joins Woody Allen's Untitled Film; Gilbert Owuor Cast In 'Mute'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 28, 2016. 
  18. ^ Smith, Emily (September 1, 2016). "Woody Allen's new movie to film in Coney Island". Page Six. NYP Holdings. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Woody Allen 2017 Film Production Starts In Brooklyn 15th September". Woody Allen Pages. September 9, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  20. ^ Caldwell, Kayla (September 1, 2016). "Justin Timberlake harkens back to boy band days with clean-cut look as retro lifeguard on Woody Allen movie set". The Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved September 17, 2016. 
  21. ^ DailyMail.com Reporter (September 19, 2016). "What a gent! Justin Timberlake holds umbrella for Kate Winslet on romantic rainy stroll on the beach for upcoming untitled Woody Allen project". The Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  22. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 3, 2017). "'Coco' Looking At Sweet $26M+ As Specialty Sector Pops With Awards Contenders – Sunday Final". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 4, 2017. 
  23. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (February 2, 2018). "Woody Allen's 'Wonder Wheel' Stalls In France; Distrib Defends "Immense Artist"". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 2, 2018. 
  24. ^ "Wonder Wheel (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 24, 2018. 
  25. ^ "Wonder Wheel Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 18, 2017. 
  26. ^ Fuller, Graham (October 13, 2017). "'Wonder Wheel': New York Review". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved December 20, 2017. 
  27. ^ Travers, Peter (November 30, 2017). "'Wonder Wheel' Review: Kate Winslet Singes in Woody Allen's Dour Drama". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 20, 2017. 
  28. ^ Nash, Chris (November 30, 2017). "Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel is shrill, stagy, and skippable: EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  29. ^ Lee, Ashley (October 25, 2017). "Hollywood Film Awards to Honor Kate Winslet and Jake Gyllenhaal". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on October 26, 2017. Retrieved October 26, 2017. 
  30. ^ Flores, Marshall (December 10, 2017). "Shape of Water Receives 12 Nominations From the St. Louis Film Critics". Awards Daily. Retrieved August 24, 2018. 

External links[edit]