Woody Allen‘s Wonder Wheel (2017) is easily one of the weakest serious films I have seen. But it is serious, for, among other things, it is about ugly neuroticism. And there is a faint autobiographical element to it. In certain ways a character named Mickey (Justin Timberlake) resembles Allen, and Kate Winslet‘s Ginny is a veiled Mia Farrow. Young Carolina (Juno Temple) is the Soon-Yi Previn figure.
Personally, I have no right to suspect Allen of having sexually molested his daughter (I don’t know the man, and there was never a police arrest). Ginny, for the record, is a shrill fool. The film’s problems? Although I love some of the visuals here, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro went overboard. There is the usual sloppy and unimaginative dialogue (an aspiring dramatist, Mickey says he wants to write “great, tragic plays,” as though the postwar American theatre [the film is set in the 1950s] is interested in such a thing). Jim Belushi goes nowhere in his enactment of an ill-developed character. And why isn’t Carolina appalled at Ginny’s rudeness and opprobrium toward her? . . . Certifiably Wonder Wheel is not the great, tragic movie we could use in the 21st century.