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Sunday, November 2, 2014

WONDROUS OBLIVION (2003)

Needlessly lousy 1960s coming-of-age story splits the difference between SHANE/’53 and TO SIR WITH LOVE/’67, in paint-by-numbers fashion. Set in a lower-middle-class London row-house world where young David Wiseman eats, sleeps & dreams cricket; if only he could play the game. So when a Jamaican family moves in next door, he’s thrilled to find a coach, mentor & surrogate father-figure in cricket-mad Delroy Lindo. But in a neighborhood that barely accepts David’s Jewish family, welcoming the only black family on the block is bound to stir up trouble. Especially when your lonely immigrant mom, a wartime refugee, grows equally attached to the manly man next door. With lenser Nina Kellgren, director Paul Morrison works up a fine, over-saturated look for this period piece, none of that tasteful subdued, faded photo nonsense, but nothing else convinces. The characters swing & sway as needed by the next plot point; and with so many story & character arc clichés to get thru, the piece has the depth & feel of an after-school tv special that’s more Development Notes than believable drama.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: The post-war tradition of coming-of-age stories between a young white kid and an older black man probably began with Clarence Brown’s finely observed adaptation of Faulkner’s INTRUDER IN THE DUST/’49, but the film remains (unaccountably) little seen.

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