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In the coal mining region of Pennsylvania, Wanda Goronski is constantly drinking to shut out the problems in her life. Having deserted her husband and infant children, Wanda sleeps on her sister's couch - when she isn't sleeping with the latest man who bought her a drink - and is unemployed with no long term job prospect. Her drinking and her life in combination have made her an emotionless woman. Her life changes when she meets Norman Dennis in a bar. She initially believes he's the bartender, but in reality he's a petty criminal who just held up the bar in question. Even after she learns Mr. Dennis' occupation and despite he treating her poorly, she willingly goes along with him and his petty crimes as a way to get through life. Mr. Dennis, on the other hand, sees her as a conduit to bigger and better things. Although things don't turn out quite the way either of the two envision, Wanda does at least begin to feel once again. Written by
Wanda is a young wife, who abandons her family after losing her job. She never made much money anyhow. Wanda then drifts around aimlessly, penniless and seeking shelter. She goes to a seedy bar one night. Once there, Wanda talks the bartender, into giving her some food and a beer, for free. He's nasty to her from the start, but does give her the free food and beer. His name is Mr. Davis. And Wanda goes to his place for a tryst, and a place to stay for the time being.
With no where else to go and no plans, Wanda stays with Mr. Davis for a while. He treats Wanda like dirt. He starts ordering her to get his food, calls her 'stupid', slaps her around, and even tells her how to dress. Mr. Davis turns out to be a deranged criminal, who's wanted by the law for murder. So he and Wanda hit the road together, so Davis can evade the cops. But when Mr. Davis wants Wanda to participate in a bank robbery with him, she has to decide if she can go through with it or not.
When this movie was made, it was basically unheard of, for a woman to skip-out on her family completely. So in this regard, this movie has quite a cutting-edge plot premise. Wanda is obviously a troubled soul, with very low self-esteem. When asked by Mr. Davis why she abandoned her family, Wanda tells him it's because she's 'no damn good'. Whatever brought on Wanda's intense angst, is never addressed. Wanda appears to be a docile, shy person. And yet, she makes the incredibly brave decision to just ditch her family, and cope alone in a precarious world. One thing is for sure; Wanda is definitely an enigmatic character.
The cinematography in this film, is very fascinating. The scenery has a remote, barren quality, which seems to convey the poignancy of Wanda's empty life. This movie is a unique account of one woman's inner turmoil, and her unusual quest to try and resolve it. If you like ground-breaking films that center around complex, female characters, then you're sure to like Wanda.
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