- Wonderwall review by Count Otto Black
If you've ever wondered why hippies were sometimes called the beautiful people, here's your answer. They're all gorgeous, especially the girls, of whom we see a lot more than the boys, especially the very lovely Jane Birkin, often in various degrees of undress. Other good-looking flower children pop up from time to time, mostly played by briefly trendy Dutch hippie art collective The Fool. Their groovy clothes (designed by The Fool) are simply fabulous. The wildly overdecorated apartment Jane and her boyfriend inhabit (interior decoration by The Fool) is as amazing to look at as it would be exhausting to live in. And a lonely old man longingly spies on all these wonders, but mostly on Jane, through holes he's drilled in the wall. He sees wonders through a wall. Wonderwall. Get it?
Basically, this is a mash-up of two films, one of which has almost no plot except a little bit at the end because it's just a long advert for The Fool, and the other has almost no plot except a little bit at the end because it's about an emotionally stunted Einstein lookalike watching the first film and wishing he was in it. The fact that this character is played by Jack MacGowran, who was best known at the time for his collaborations with Samuel Beckett, suggests that the movie was trying to say something profound about the human condition, but the deepest message it manages to impart is that being an oversexed young hippie is more fun than being an undersexed old microbiologist, and you get to wear much groovier clothes.
Obviously influenced by "Peeping Tom" and "Repulsion" but completely in the dark about why those films are considered great, the movie blunders randomly from clumsily symbolic angst to zany imagery inspired by "Help!" that looks like deleted scenes from a substandard episode of "The Monkees". The professor spies on the gorgeous hippie chick doing a scantily-clad Vogue fashion shoot! The professor has a meltdown and gets a bit shirty with the charwoman! The professor puts on fancy dress and runs about in a field next to a motorway attacking Hippie Chick's boyfriend with huge replicas of everyday objects like a Silver Age Batman villain! No, wait, that was a dream! How zany is that! Are you having fun yet?
If you're on serious drugs, probably. You might even be enjoying George Harrison's score, which, since this is 1968 and neither John nor Paul is involved, consists of shapeless sitar noodlings with no discernible tune and the odd snatch of backwards guitar because hey man, that's really far out! If you're not on drugs at all, you could probably experience everything good about this film in a much shorter time by flicking through a 50-year-old copy of Vogue, or simply by googling photos of Jane Birkin. The DVD has two versions of the movie on it, but I have no idea how the director's cut differs from the theatrical release because I haven't the slightest desire to watch this sometimes decorative but extremely tedious film ever again, and I certainly don't want to see it twice on the same day. Unless you're stoned out of your skull and/or unhealthy obsessed with Jane Birkin, the most enjoyable thing about watching this movie is spotting all the similarities to "Eraserhead" and wondering if they're purely coincidental, or maybe, just maybe, David Lynch did a heavily disguised stealth remake but will never, ever admit it.
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