Woody Allen once again brings us that kind of story that only once does he seem to have the ability or the desire to tell, with eccentric characters and scenarios from the fifties, full of complexities, metaphors, conflicts and, as always, a tone of humor. Roda Gigante is also marked by Amazon’s participation in its production.
The film’s photography features the talents of Vittorio Storaro, who was responsible for beautiful images from productions such as Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor and Still Last Tango in Paris, making Rueda Giant one of the most beautiful films technically. In addition, Allen allows the photograph to be often similar to the works of Bernardo Bertolucci, who has always worked with Storaro. This kind of homage to distant titles gives complexity to the present production, which mixes styles from different eras of Allen’s career.
For the audience accustomed to productions that try to get close to reality in their cinematic language, Roda Gigante will seem theatrical, as if the director had left the current cinema to go back in time when the theater still influenced the cinema. Also, the plot type resembles a Woody Allen from formerly, that of The Purple Rose of Cairo, for example. This aspect is reinforced by the imaginative scenery of the film, where the main character Ginny, played by Kate Winslet, lives. The character is an ex-actress and current waitress in search of something more. She is married to Humpty (Jim Belushi), a man who seems to have come from the Italian mafia of the 1950s and who works in the amusement park that serves as a backdrop for the couple’s reality. The park’s giant wheel, the title of the feature, is what Ginny sees from her home, blocking her vision for something else she wants to find in her life.
The difference between Ginny and her husband naturally makes Giant Wheel walk into a very familiar plot of the director: that of the love triangle. Not loving her husband, she meets and falls in love with Mickey (Justin Timberlake), a lifesaver who aspires to be a playwright. Her profession and aspirations fall like a glove with Ginny’s wishes-for-something-more. Besides, he could not be any different from her husband. Mickey also has a special role in the feature since the character speaks directly to the camera and has quirks that resemble those of Woody Allen himself, giving the audience a specific point of view to understand the film.
The love triangle is definitely formed when Carolina (Juno Temple), a daughter moves away from Humpty’s first marriage, goes to her father to seek shelter and a place to hide from the mafia that her ex-boyfriend belongs to (since, possibly, witnessed a crime). So she starts working as a waitress next to Ginny. The problem is when Mickey finds her, he quickly forgets his feelings for Ginny and falls in love with Carolina. All the vulnerability and complexity that made Mickey interested in a married woman dissipate in the new passion with the young woman.
Filled with metaphors and vibrant photography, the film is not one that fits in well with the kind of production we expect from a 2000 Woody Allen. But while a new production company like Amazon is behind Giant Wheel, its characters point us to an old Woody Allen that some viewers had already forgotten.
(article translated from the original version in portuguese, by Google Translate)