Film Review: Wendy

17:22 March 09, 2020
By: Fritz Esker

Wendy, director Benh Zeitlin's follow-up to 2012's Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild, received lukewarm reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. Those reactions were deserved, as Wendy fails to find magic in its re-imagining of the Peter Pan tale.

Wendy (Devin France) is a rural Southerner whose single mom works in a diner. One night, she hops on a mysterious train with her brothers (Gage and Gayin Naquin) and soon they find themselves on an enchanted island that is home to the eternally young Peter Pan (Yashua Mack) and his followers.

On occasion, the movie seems like it will become a thoughtful examination of the ways in which children have the spirit beaten out of them as they become adults. However, the shapeless script fails to get much narrative momentum going. The pacing is glacially slow and its 112 minute running time feels an hour longer. There's also stilted, awkward voiceover narration throughout.

The one positive note is that the child actors all acquit themselves well. It's a shame the script lets them down.

Full disclosure: I was not a fan of Beasts of the Southern Wild, so if that film is one of your cherished favorites, you should take the above words with the requisite grains of salt.

★★ stars (out of four)

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