A Spinning World
Stars: Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, James Belushi and Juno Temple
Director/Scriptwriter: Woody Allen
Cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro
Rating: R for mature themes and language
Running Length: 118 minutes
A wonder wheel usually refers to the giant Ferris wheels that inhabit amusement parks. It is a wonder, indeed, to ride into the sky vertically on a bench with nothing more than a strap and safety bar holding you in place. You go back to earth and up again, never a dull moment. The wonder wheel in Woody Allen’s latest film, refers to the carousel that Humpty (played by Jim Belushi) manages. It goes round and round horizontally, that makes it seem almost boring after awhile. This is the crux of the story---the people involved in this amusement park are bored and don’t know what to do about it. They have secrets, too. Besides Humpty, there is Ginny, Humpty’s wife and well played by Kate Winslet. Juno Temple plays Caroline, Humpty’s daughter from a previous marriage.
We enter the world of Ginny, who is a waitress at a seafood restaurant, day after day with a mediocre income from Humpty’s salary and hers combined. Their apartment actually is all glass and looks out on the boardwalk. No privacy and shades/curtains are a must. Oh, well, it’s cheap. Humpty likes his beer, buddies, Ginny and is a rough man. Enter Richie ( Justin Timberlake) as the new lifeguard. Richie is also the narrator of the film. Ginny has an eye for him right away and soon, they have a meeting place. Enter, Caroline (Juno Temple) who hasn’t seen her Dad in years, but is in trouble and needs a place to stay. You can see what’s going to happen, Caroline begins to like Richie and where does that leave Ginny, with her private affair? Jealousy begins to loom and people try to keep things private, but then someone's past comes knocking at the door. Hmm.
It takes the first half of the film to get the idea of the story, and the setting of the apartment with all glass, is off-setting to the audience who wants to see what is going on outside. The time period is in the mid-1950’s and you get the ambience of clothing, furniture, cars and an amusement park being the place to spend time instead of in front of a television set. The soundtrack is filled with appropriate tunes of that period and they come in at appropriate moments such as “Kiss of Fire,“ “Till I Waltz Again With You” or “Red Roses For A Blue Lady.“ About the middle of the film, there is an incident that changes the tone of the movie and makes you sit up and watch what will happen next.
Kate Winslet takes the role of “Ginny” and runs with it. She said in an interview that this was one of the most difficult roles she has had. I can see why within the storyline. Jim Belushi is good, also, as Humpty, a bear of a man who is a little boy inside. Juno Temple, as Caroline, is effective as the estranged daughter who makes wrong decisions right and left. Justin Timberlake? Not his best role, with the exception of his narrations. The four anchor the storyline. Woody Allen as a director gives each their space to act.
If you have ever been on a boardwalk and visited an amusement park, you may have wondered where the people live and what happens when the place closes. Here is one story.
Copyright 2017 Marie Asner