In the hustle and bustle of 1950s Coney Island, where the buzzing crowd comes and goes trudging slowly over the wooden boardwalks, silent stories of the everyday toilers who give life to the attraction unfold. Somewhere in a clam bar, there's the sad waitress Ginny, a one-time actress and now a suffering wife who's been given a second chance by the side of the well-intentioned but uncouth carousel operator, Humpty. On the other hand, there's Humpty's 26-year-old estranged daughter, Carolina, who left the familial nest and a preordained future seeking adventure as a mobster's wife; only to return home with her wings broken, begging for forgiveness. And from the lifeguard's high tower, where all is in plain sight, the young and charming lifesaver and hopeful playwright, Mickey, is the inadvertent but potent catalyst that binds everything together. Shattered dreams, reckless love and betrayal, all under the bright lights of Coney Island.Written by
On Mickey's white hat, his last name and last 4 digits of his Social Security Number are shown stenciled on it. Back then, Social Security Numbers were not used as identification for Military members. All that would have been stenciled on his white hat would be his last name and first/middle initials. See more »
Coney Island, 1950's. The beach, the boardwalk. Once a luminous jewel, but growing relentlessly seedier as the tides roll in and out. Summers I work here on Bay 7. Comes the fall, I'm a student at New York University going for my Master's in European drama. I'm Mickey Rubin. Poetic by nature. I harbor dreams of being a writer. A writer of truly great plays, so I can one day surprise everyone and turn out a profound masterpiece.
[to the camera]
Anyhow. Let me get to the ...
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WONDER WHEEL iss a big surprise. After reading several sour reviews, I wasn't expecting much but Kate Winslet is terrific, the story is quite good, and the look of the film (luscious cinematography by Vittorio Storaro and production design by the always underrated Santo Loquasto) is fascinating.
Story has Winslet unhappily married (to Jim Belushi) and working in a clam house on Coney Island in the 1950s. She meets a lifeguard (Justin Timberlake) and embarks on a doomed love affair with him just as Belushi's daughter (Juno Temple) from a previous marriage returns after her marriage to a gangster has failed. It's sort of a Blanche du Bois meets Eugene O'Neill plot with a twist of the Sopranos.
Everyone is good but Winslet certainly steals the show. The 1950s Coney Island is something to see, and Winslet's house, practically under the giant Wonder Wheel, is awash is garish lights from the ride. Scenes move from orange to blue to red hues. Quite fascinating. Oh, and Winslet has a strange son from a previous marriage. For me this is Allen's best since BLUE JASMINE.
It's such a treat to see good actors actually getting to act in long, uncut scenes and without the camera whipping around and edited into 10-second info-bytes. The soundtrack includes a terrific number by the Mills Brothers I don't think I've ever heard before: "Coney Island Washboard."
Kate Winslet is outstanding, Jim Belushi and Juno Temple are very good, and Justin Timberlake is better than I expected. Great film from a great American filmmaker: Woody Allen.
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