Dear Wendy Movie Review

For the most part, 2005 was a great year for movies about something. I won't go through all the titles, but it was obvious that for once in a very long time, directors were good and angry. So, it comes as a large disappointment that Thomas Vinterberg's Dear Wendy fails to get away from its own self-masturbatory America-is-stupid letterhead of war as a means of peace. Gee, I wonder if Vinterberg and screenwriter Lars Von Trier are talking about Bush's "war for peace" and America's botched pacifism.

Set in the unidentifiable town known as Estherslope in some unknown time (confusing since there is a huge Axe deodorant spray advertisement in one scene), Dick (Jamie Bell) lives with his miner father and Clarabelle (Novella Nelson), the family maid. He takes a job at a supermarket and generally acts lonely constantly, especially when his father dies in the mines. At the supermarket, he meets Steven (Mark Webber), a young man exactly like him. Things light up between them when Steven sees Dick with a small gun that Dick thinks is a toy; it isn't. They begin to meet, and slowly form the Dandies, a gang of people who love guns but never use them. All is well in their lives until the sheriff (Bill Pullman) puts Dick in charge of checking in on Clarabelle's grandson, Sebastian (Danso Gordon), a small-time murderer. Sebastian takes liberties with Dick's gun (the titular Wendy) and, well, things don't end well.

I wouldn't go so far as to call the film racist, but the black characters here are the ones that incite the eventual downfall of the Dandies and most of the white kids are seen as eccentric, but by no means dumb or dangerous. Susan (Alison Pill) is devoid of any character besides the fact that she shows her breasts to Dick to show how she's "grown." Now, both these things would work if the film itself had a message, as a whole, about the ways modern Hollywood sees race and females. However, that doesn't happen because we are supposed to be inside the story, and understanding that peace and self-confidence through machines of war and violence can never truly exist. The film desperately wants to believe that it's making a grand gesture, but both these ideas have been done in much smarter, subtler, and more dangerous ways. To quote a saying I never really understood, they want to have their cake and eat it too.

That's all simply about the subtext, but the film also doesn't work as entertainment value either. We are watching a club of misfits play with guns and make up procedures and share information, without any major social interaction between them besides talking about guns. The climax, an act of violence by Clarabelle, has no relevance since it's never taken seriously until the Dandies declare war on the police, which is the last scene of the film. The characters simply don't matter to us because they have taken no action to allow the audience to connect with them as people. They are just silly kids, in their fantasy world of confidence through pseudo-violence. It's a charade and Vinterberg and Von Trier, both talented men, are trying to pass it off as high concept. It's an act of utter distrust and holier-than-thou sentiment towards the audience and there's not one iota of sentimentality or sincerity in the whole thing. It's a private joke for two guys who should know better.

Cast & Crew

Producer : Sisse Graum Olsen


Comments

Dear Wendy Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: NR, 2004

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