The film reminded me of a less stylish and kooky version of Rian Johnson’s recent hit, Knives Out, and that’s exceptionally high praise from me. The comparisons come from the way that we’re given enough information and intrigue for every member of the family. It felt like knowing the characters intimately while also not having the faintest idea of what they were capable of. The role of Wanda does not have that luxury. We see glimpses of her backstory in Facetime chats with her children and father. Still, I had a hard time knowing how the plot directly affects her. Is she happy? Are her motivations altruistic? Is she out to financially hurt the family because of some of their pompous attitude? I had no idea.
“…needed more exploration of the title character.”
Things are cleared up a bit by the end, but I think a film called My Wonderful Wanda needed more exploration of the title character. Grochowska is a fantastic actor, and there are bits towards the end that clearly show her abilities, but there wasn’t enough to form a fully rounded person. Maybe the point of the film is to center around the family and their relationships with each other? In that case, I get it, but why include snippets of backstory and personality? If that was the intention, I think showing Wanda as sort of an agent of chaos/force of nature type with no hints of motivation and no reactions towards her predicaments would have been better. I just feel like the film should have chosen between paying her mind or paying her no mind at all.
My Wonderful Wanda is a stunning looking film. Cinematographer Judith Kaufmann does a great job showing the claustrophobic nature of Josef’s hospice room up against the wide-open beauty of his family’s lake view home. At some points, there’s almost a documentary look to it, which, when blended with the film’s strong acting, sometimes makes you forget you’re watching a scripted movie. The screenplay by Bettina Oberli and Cooky Ziesche is well-written, and as I stated previously, most of the characters are perfectly fleshed out. I do think that the film could have been a little bit shorter, as in some parts it dragged on a little too much. This is definitely one of my favorite movies I’ve seen so far this year. If you get a chance, seek this one out and give it a watch.
"…a wonderfully fascinating story about a dysfunctional family..."