Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Sight & Sound Challenge: Wanda (1970)

Film: Wanda (231/250) 
First Time/Rewatch: First Time

I had the pleasure of seeing this film on the big screen at my local arthouse theater. So many films on this list were hard to hunt down, and some I had to settle for watching on my phone. I always appreciate getting to see them on the big screen, free from distraction, confronting these characters. And what characters they are! Wanda (Barbara Loden, who also wrote and directed the film) is aimless, a little scatterbrained, and frustrating as hell. She stumbles along, seeming to not know or care what happens to her or who she ends up with. She barely speaks up for herself, and there appears to be an undercurrent of self-loathing within her. I wanted to hug her and shake her. And do her hair, honestly. Wanda eventually ends up tagging along with a thief and gets pulled into his crimes. She doesn't object, probably because she doesn't have anything else to do. This film is the opposite of eye candy. The world looks bleak, dirty, pointless. Everyone treats everyone like garbage. In spite of this, I found myself chuckling quite a few times at the (very dark) humor. The thief Norman Dennis (Michel Higgins) is an asshole, self-important and more than a little ridiculous. He deserves to pay for his crimes, and yet why do I pity him? Why is Wanda crying for him? Loden creates such deceivingly complex characters that I wanted to know much more about. What is Wanda thinking? Is she thinking anything? How did she get to this point? Where does she go from here? It's a shame that this was the only feature she ever directed; she had an interesting point of view. 

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