Wonder Wheel –  8 ½


In a word:  Struggles

     I enjoyed this movie/drama, but I know it’s not for everyone.         

If you like lots of action, fighting, car chases, explosions and gunfire, don’t see this movie.

If you expect nudity and/or graphic sexual activity, don’t see this movie.

If you want to hear lots of cursing, vulgarity and a constant spray of “F” bombs, you’d be disappointed..

If you like comedy or you hope to walk out feeling happy and joyful, stay home.

So, why give it an 8 1/2?  Because it is a very well-crafted human story about disappointment, struggle, the search for love and constantly dealing with aspirations and disappointments. It’s about many of us, one time or another in our lives.

Set in the early 1950s in Coney Island, Brooklyn, four people try to make ends meet but constantly face one obstacle after another, some of their own making. The central character deftly played by Kate Winslet is a middle-aged wannabe former actress who made too many mistakes in her past life and now scrimps to get by supporting her 10 year-old son who happens to be a burgeoning pyromaniac. Kate is on her second unhappy marriage to a character slobbily played by Jim Belushi who shows great acting skills as an over-dominant, obnoxious, self-centered, loud mouth carnival worker.

Lo and behold, Belushi’s 26 year-old daughter shows up out of a 6-year absence, on the run, which creates a deeper divide between Winslet and Belushi.

The individual dynamics are captivating.  And, each character is unique and clearly identifiable from other characters the way novel characters are supposed to be created.

The movie is narrated to the audience in parts by actor, Justin Timberlake, portraying a handsome beach lifeguard, who inadvertently becomes embroiled in the domestic conundrums within all-of-the-above. The narrations are reminiscent of Ray Liotta’s character in Goodfellas, talking directly to the audience as the movie wanders from scene to scene.

I’m not a big fan of Woody Allen. But I would give him high marks for this work, because there are no attempts at being funny, it’s all about serious interactions between individuals in the post-WWII era. Seniors will enjoy the background music selections from the early 1950s, such as You Belong To Me and Kiss of Fire.

Kate Winslet, who is from England, aptly portrays a mainstream, lower-middle class New Yorker in this, her 44th movie. Her dramatic performance is outstanding, nearly as good as Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Mo. Definitely worthy of, at least, an Oscar nomination.

This movie will probably bomb at the box office, but I found the story to be engrossing  and the acting superb. What more can you want?

I give it an 8 ½ out of 10.

Click here: Wonder Wheel (2017) – IMDb


  1. Helen Bennett December 18, 2017 at 4:37 pm #

    I want to see this film if only because I used to love to go on the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island! The time period of early ’50s is also mine, and the story sounds interesting and well crafted. Kate Winslet is always great, so I am glad you liked this “wonder”ful story. (There are about five movies with “wonder” in the title this year.)

  2. PATRICK PESCE December 18, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    I am on my way to see this movie. Raised as a young man I lived within walking distance to the Wonder Wheel. Also, as you know, was a lifeguard at Coney. Those were the days my friend…

  3. Helen R. Frigo December 18, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

    Thanks for the review. I once was a big fan of Woody Allen in his early movies.
    We wait for the movies you review and like to come out in DVD’s on Netfix for several reasons. First , have people stop talking in the theater ? We get upset at people who think they are at home and not in public . Now to object to those talking might get one shot. Next, pit stops.

  4. Cathy Pesce December 19, 2017 at 12:40 am #

    I saw this movie tonight and loved it. The early 50’s era, its Coney Island back drop and my love for all Woody Allen movies was a home run! Woody Allen knows how to write a great story. Coney Island was recreated so realistically that it brought me back to my good old days at that Wonderful fun place!!

  5. Katrina (Ledford) Emanuel December 19, 2017 at 6:18 pm #

    My husband and I saw this movie Saturday and loved it. Unfortunately, society today just doesnt want to see a movie like this. Anything deep and thought provoking they stay away from. There were 2 other couples (seniors) in the theatre with us, and after it ended, the six of us (all strangers) stayed and discussed the movie giving each others comments, opinions, etc. and it was very enjoyable. Glad we went as it probably wont last a week or two before it moves on. Thanks for the enthoughtful review. We agree completely. Katrina (Ledford) Emanuel, your NMHS classmate.