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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.33%
Worth A Look54.17%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 29.17%
Sucks: 8.33%

3 reviews, 6 user ratings

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Dear Wendy
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by Erik Childress

"OOOOOHHHH, Guns, Guns, GUNS!"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Amidst a moment of impending chaos, a young man writes a letter to his sweetheart. Like a soldier going off to war, he writes pages and pages, seemingly oblivious of the array of firearms being prepared behind him. A potential slaughter is approaching and this one-time pacifist may be penning his last words to his beloved Wendy. However, she is not a person nor even a pet. Wendy is the name of his gun. How did we get to this point?

In the mining town of Estherslope, young Dick (Jamie Bell) has grown up under the care of Clarabelle (Novella Nelson). His father died in the mine shafts, a life that never suited Dick from the get-go. He knows the other kids in town, but is more inclined to loner status. When he’s told to attend a birthday party for Clarabelle’s grandson, Dick goes present shopping and chooses a toy gun in the window of the local general store. Much to his surprise, the weapon is no toy at all and he feels compelled to grasp it.

Dick is a self-described pacifist, which is easy to label oneself in a town that looks as if its never seen violence in all its days. Sheriff Krugsby (Bill Pullman) even assures him that he’s “a good boy.” And he is. Even with a gun in his possession, Dick has no plans to use it for evil. But boy is it fun to shoot. His friend, Stevie (Mark Webber) also takes a shine to it and turns his mind to the education of all things weaponry until he becomes a roving encyclopedia of size, strength and impact.

Dick and Stevie begin an underground club called the Dandies. Naturally, where there’s a place to fit-in, others who have no place to fit will gravitate. Freddie (Michael Angarano) is constantly getting beat up at school, mainly because of his leg-braced brother, Huey (Chris Owen). Susan (Alison Pill) is the shy girl who sold Dick his new toy and with one in her own hand, she enjoys a Pygmalion-like transformation, somehow convinced that her newfound love is even responsible for her new ample bosom. The Dandies have nothing but good intentions; if you can call them intentions at all. They are just friends following a strict code never to draw their weapons. Classes are held about guns, names are given to their newborn loves and practice turns to perfection.

It should come as little surprise that the author of this little opus is none other than Lars Von Trier, who has made such scathing indictments of the American way of life involving Religion (Breaking the Waves), the Death Penalty (Dancer in the Dark) and Immigration & Religion & The Death Penalty (Dogville). Von Trier has been lashed out against for not only his heavy-handed “shame on you” screenplays, but also because he’s never set foot in America because he’s deathly afraid to travel. There’s a movie in there somewhere and I’d like to see Von Trier write it. Just because someone is critical, doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

The implication of America’s love with guns was evident in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. The Second Amendment is condemned and debated by liberals while it’s held like a red, white and blue blanket from mostly the gun nuts and gun lobbyists. A gun may be an ideal measure of prevention, but doesn’t carry that mutually-assured destruction that keeps nuclear missiles in their silos. If you’re good enough, you can kill the other person without dying. Even the NRA’s slogan suggests you must murder them before they drop their weapon (or their beliefs.) Similarly, The Dandies refer to firing as “loving.”

Shooting is fun. Even the staunchest of pacifists couldn’t deny that. It’s why we love action movies, video games and playing Cops & Robbers. Some take it further into skeet shooting and hunting. But there are variables that can turn dormancy into tragedy. Von Trier plays up our fear of stereotypes when this group of Caucasians is asked to look over a paroled criminal; a black man (Danso Gordon) who ironically happens to have once been the child to whom Dick was prepared to present with a toy gun.

Director Thomas Vinterberg has solid material to work with and presents it in a more cohesive narrative than his last Sundance effort, the oblique sci-fi parable, Its All About Love. Together with Von Trier, they can’t help but hammer the firearm debate on every nail they can find and when they run out, the search begins for fingers, utilizing tricks straight out of David O. Russell’s Three Kings to drive home the impact. Their surroundings take on a Pleasantville-like status as the time period looks like something out of the early 20th century. The kids begin to dress like the cowboy heroes we admired; mythical symbols of American history that soon give way to more modern technology and bigger guns. Dear Wendy will divide audiences and critics the same way that Von Trier’s directorial efforts have, but now more than ever, as the Zombies’ song harmoniously states, it’s the time of the season for loving.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11252&reviewer=198
originally posted: 02/03/05 11:54:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/05/06 Katy Garner this movie is crap! totally boring 1 stars
9/14/05 Tim Go to America Lars and met the people, what are you afraid of? 1 stars
8/12/05 Jo Man hilarious affecting stuff WITH GUNS -for everyone who's a loser 5 stars
7/24/05 Arran Henderson. Dull, flabby, self indulgent and banal. 2 stars
5/10/05 Jens Rasmussen in this film it hurts when somebody gets hit by the gun 4 stars
1/31/05 paul ramsell highly original metaphore story 5 stars
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  23-Sep-2005 (NR)
  DVD: 21-Mar-2006



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