Octogenarian filmmaker Woody Allen continues his pace of a movie a year with Wonder Wheel, his weakest effort since 2012’s To Rome With Love.
Kate Winslet gives a typically outstanding performance as Ginny, a waitress in 1950s Coney Island in an unhappy marriage to an older carousel operator (James Belushi). Things take a turn for the dramatic when Belushi’s adult daughter from his first marriage (Juno Temple) arrives on the run from the mob. Winslet’s also having an affair with a lifeguard (Justin Timberlake) who soon develops feelings for Temple.
Aside from Winslet’s strong work as a woman desperately holding on to what she feels is her last chance at happiness, the movie boasts beautiful cinematography from legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now). But it’s very easy to tell where the story’s headed and the narration by Timberlake is forced and unnecessary.
While Allen has made some very good movies that were also very bleak, the story and the characters here aren’t compelling enough to justify the dreariness. And the questions asked by the script are not as interesting as those asked by underrated Allen films of this decade like Irrational Man and Magic in the Moonlight.