Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I love Lars von Trier. He is my favorite director in the whole wide world. He is a great thinker and storyteller and pushes boundaries for a living. Dear Wendy is the first von Trier project that hasn't rocked my world. On the world-rocking list, by the way, if you're looking for a challenging DVD rental: Dogville, Manderlay, The Five Obstructions (a genius documentary) and Breaking the Waves. The latter film was so incredibly challenging, I don't think I have the emotional constitution to ever revisit it again.
von Trier actually didn't direct Dear Wendy. He wrote the screenplay and let his Dogme 95 cohort, Thomas Vinterberg, man the director's chair. (Speaking of challenging DVD rentals, Vinterberg's The Celebration is an incredible family drama that's not to be missed.)
So back to Dear Wendy. Dear me, I wish it was a better movie. The teaser trailer (embedded above) was so full of promise. I remember seeing it flicker across the NuArt theater screen a few years back. I practically jumped out of my seat in anticipation.
But, for one reason or another, I just got around to watching Dear Wendy on DVD. Alas, I was disappointed. Only a fraction of the promise of that teaser came to the finished piece. The script felt sloppy. A great, snappy, funny beginning unraveled into mishmash. Such a shame, too. The cast was terrific, especially Jamie Bell in the lead role (what a natural!) and Bill Pullman as a cop who likes to wince.
The provocative premise is this: Pacifist teenage "losers" in a small town begin a secret gang called The Dandies. The Dandies find meaning in their downbeat lives by adopting firearms as emotional "partners."
To the film's credit, the art direction was gorgeous—especially The Dandies' costumes and the ghostly shell of rusted tin and bleached out wood that makes up their lonely homestead. The Zombies soundtrack was inspired—anachronistic genius. But, in the end, the story misfired. Yes, I just made a gun pun. So shoot me.
And this is neither here or there, but watching the special features interview with von Trier and Vinterberg made me realize that Vinterberg is a hunk of burning love and von Trier is secretly humble. Still, as handsome as Vinterberg is, I left the experience crushing on von Trier. Sigh. Oh, Lars.