My Wonderful Wanda
When single-mother Wanda (Agnieszka Grochowska) takes a job caring for the elderly Josef (Andre Jung), all seems well. She stays with Josef and his affluent family in their gorgeous home on the Swiss Lakes, is welcomed into the fold by his wife Elsa (Marthe Keller) and, despite butting heads with Josef’s career-driven daughter (Birgit Minichmayr), she forms a friendship with kind-hearted son Gregi (Jacob Matschenz). To earn some extra money on the side to support her children back home in Poland, though, she lets Josef pay her for sex. And then she falls pregnant. The news devastates the family as they’re forced to confront a situation that could ruin their reputation as they begin to fall apart at the seams.
There is a tinge of Parasite in director and co-writer Bettina Oberli’s My Wonderful Wanda as it navigates a satirical exploration of class division and xenophobia. The family are all too happy to act like Wanda is part of their family, but they’re just as quick to accuse her of stealing and confine her to the kitchen during a lavish birthday celebration. Unlike the Korean hit, however, Oberli’s film lacks the creative spark to take his premise anywhere. In short, it takes an awfully long time for not a lot to happen.
After Wanda falls pregnant (an event that happens early in the runtime), the majority of what remains is spent with the family talking about ways to deal with their current predicament. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this approach, having the players repeatedly parroting the same things quickly makes for a tedious viewing experience. This frustration is only amplified when promising moments of character development (with a solid performance from Matschenz marking a particular highlight of the film) are discarded almost immediately so that the characters can return to their favourite talking points. Consequently, grand gestures made by some family members towards the end come across as awkward and confused rather than the touching moments they were intended to be.
And when the ending finally does come along, the script is still unable to find an effective note on which to conclude, prolonging itself until it eventually fizzles out, leaving viewers feeling almost exactly the same as when they started: indifferent.
My Wonderful Wanda does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for My Wonderful Wanda here: