Dear Wendy

Dogme 95 giants tackle guns in America

Dear Wendy
The first surprise in the unpredictable and original "Dear Wendy" is that its young hero, Dick (Jamie Bell), who at the outset of the film starts writing a letter that will serve as voice-over narration, is not addressing a girlfriend but his cherished revolver.

Dick lives in a desolate coal mining town, shot in desaturated hues and likely set in West Virginia, and he feels like a loser until Stevie (Mark Webber), a heretofore near-silent co-worker at a grocery store, informs him that a recently purchased cap pistol is in fact the real thing, a high-quality revolver. The discovery bonds the two teenage loners, and Stevie's vast knowledge of guns infects Dick.

In a beginning more intricate and clever than outlined here, two of Denmark's Dogme 95 co-founders — Lars von Trier, who wrote the script, and Thomas Vinterberg, who directed — launch an allegory on guns and violence in America that is all the more resounding for its acutely observed foreigners' perspective.

The entire film was shot in Denmark and Germany, but one would never know it, so astute is the production design, with only one or two props in the entire film not likely to find their way in into a U.S. coal town.

It's clear from frame one that "Dear Wendy" is almost certainly not going to end well, but the complex course it takes cannot be guessed, and by the time this astute and entirely distinctive film is over, the folly of America's love affair with guns, past and present, is laid bare with the same inescapable force with which Gregg Araki exposed the horror of child molestation in "Mysterious Skin," a similarly poetic and deceptively affectless film. (K. Thomas, L.A. Times)

Dear Wendy

Thu & Fri March 2 & 3, 2006, 7:00 & 9:15, Muenzinger Auditorium

Denmark/France/Germany/UK, 2005, in English, Color, 105 min



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