Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dear Wendy: Grade B


Dear Wendy

Lars von Trier (writer) Thomas Vinterberg (director)

Jamie Bell, Bill Pullman, Alison Pill, Danso Gordon, others

A half dozen young people in a W. Virginia mining town start a gun club in which they each acquire one pistol, learn everything there is to know about it, and shoot targets in an abandoned mine shaft. There are made-up rituals, costumes and vows taken. They carry their guns outside one day to escort an old woman and a shoot-out with the state police ensues. Themes are 1. A gun makes you feel powerful, can even give your life meaning. 2. If you own a gun, you will use it. 3. When guns are around, people get killed. 4. Killing with a gun is trivially easy. 5. A gun can be a personal expression or just a technical killing machine. When those ideas are in conflict, the latter triumphs.

The characters are all 2-dimensional so we don’t mind when they are blown away – reinforcing the media stereotype. The sets look awfully “setty.” The story is creative, weird and improbable. “Wendy” is the name of a gun. The lead character writes letters to it as if it were a lover. I get the point, but its believability is low. The story does not unfold, but is shown, like a fable designed to illustrate a moral, though it is engaging after a very slow first half hour. The shoot-em-up finish on a dusty street is exceptionally well done. Fabulous music by the 60’s group, the Zombies. This movie would have been better if it had developed theme 5 more, which is somewhat original. The rest of it is old news.

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