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Regardt van den Bergh
Matthew Dylan Roberts
Eleven-year-old David Wiseman is mad about cricket but no good at it. He has the entire kit but none of the skill, and he's a laughingstock at school. So when a Jamaican family moves in next door and builds a cricket net in the back garden, David is in seventh heaven. But this is 1960s Britain, and when the neighbours start to make life difficult for the new arrivals, David's family is caught in the middle, and he has to choose between fitting in and standing up for the new friends who have turned his world upside-down. Written by
"Wondrous Oblivion" is a film that has as its motive one of the most boring sports out there (at least for those who don't play it) cricket. Thankfully, Paul Morrison's second feature, after the award winning "Solomon and Gaenor" (1999), is not about cricket at all.
We are given a coming of age story of a Jewish boy, David (Sam Smith), born in the family of two Holocaust survivors in the 1950s England: Victor (Stanley Townsend), a Polish émigré, and a very young Ruth (Emily Woof), coming from Germany. The boy has an empowering passion for cricket, obvious from his massive card collection of cricket celebrities. However, he is totally rubbish at it. His destiny is to change when a Jamaican émigré family comes next door, and sets up an improvised cricket court. Dennis Samuels (Delroy Lindo) teaches the boy the craftsmanship of the sport, and becomes a close friend of David.
All seems a very familiar bad-sportsman-turns-great story, but Morrison's script is ingenious enough not to fall in the stereotypical Hollywood film-making. The boy doesn't end up the great sportsman that we all wish him to be, but learns something greater, something more important in the process. And this is the 'wondrous oblivion' the author intended to deliver The 1960s as a whole becomes a decade of surprising changes and animosity, and yet all characters seem to remain static in their conception of their beliefs.
This is a good film, and it is worth seeing for the original cinematography and a moving performance from Emily Woof ("Passion", "The Full Monty"), which steals the whole film. Watch out for the dance scene with Lindo, which is dominated both by passion, and religious taboos, and it is surprisingly sexy. The only three problems in the movie are the simplicity with each the Holocaust theme is being treated, the poor knowledge of Jewish faith, as well as the stereotypical two-dimensionality of the entire supporting cast. But this applies only for a picky audience.
"Wondrous Oblivion" is one of those films that one cannot dislike, or at least loathe. Pacing, beautiful, and quite funny really.
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