Wonder Wheel: Woody Allen’s latest film—and the campaign to drive him out of the film industry
17 March 2018
Written and directed by Woody Allen
Wonder Wheel is 82-year-old director Woody Allen’s 49th film. The movie, set in the 1950s, involves four characters whose unhappy lives become entwined in Coney Island—New York City’s iconic amusement park.
It was not possible earlier this year to review Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World without confronting the issue of the scandalous decision to “delete” Kevin Spacey from that film after its completion. Similarly, one cannot discuss Wonder Wheel without taking into account the ongoing effort, in the name of the anti-sexual misconduct campaign, to blackball Allen and drive him out of the film industry.
This deplorable endeavor has been taken up by numerous performers who have worked with Allen in the past, including Mira Sorvino, Greta Gerwig, Michael Caine and Colin Firth. More about that later.
Allen’s enduring reputation stems largely from his marvelous work as a stand-up comic in the 1960s and certain intriguing films he directed in the 1970s and 1980s. His movies in recent decades have been flat as a rule and lacking in urgency. But even within this overall process, there have been ups and downs, and Wonder Wheel has a bit more liveliness to it than some of Allen’s recent efforts.
First, it’s set in Brooklyn in the 1950s, in the place where—and at a time when—the director was growing up. This may help account for the fact that the characters here are less complacent and economically well-fixed.
The film opens with a visually striking overview of Coney Island and its giant Ferris wheel. Mickey (Justin Timberlake), a lifeguard and college playwriting student, is the…