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USA 1970
Directed by
Barbara Loden
105 minutes
Rated MA


3 stars

Wanda

This cinematic one-off, written and directed by and starring Barbara Loden is reminiscent of the films of John Cassavetes and it is little surprise that it won the Critics Prize in Venice in 1970 for it is a film that readily fits in the art cinema catalogue.

Shot in 16mm and blown up to 35mm its grainy imagery and poor audio perfectly suits its story of people on the margins. Opening in the drab wastelands of Scranton, a Pennsylvania coal-mining town area it follows the adventures of a listless, none-too bright woman (Loden) as she gets a divorce, loses her children, drifts around and hooks up with a petty crook, Mr Dennis (Michael Higgins) who ends up getting killed in a botched bank robbery. Some people will see this as a sympathetic almost social realist portrait of a down-trodden individual and Loden certainly brings home the reality for Wanda of life as a sex-object. Others will see it as a black comedy, a kind of Warholian Bonnie And Clyde. It is probably more successful from the latter perspective with Michael Higgins’ Mr Dennis, with his suit and tie and coloured glasses, cast very much in the Nouvelle Vague style of gangster and Loden and cameraman Nicholas Profere pay as much if not more attention to the purely visual aspects as they do the story. The melding of these various influences is skilfully brought off although it is a slow moving film that will test conventional expectations

BTW: Loden, an actress married to Elia Kazan, died of cancer in 1980 at the age of 48

 

 

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