Wanda (1970)

wanda 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review:  How the poor survive.

There is a scene near the beginning that shows our main character played by Barbara Loden from a distance walking through mounds of coal to get to her father so that she can ask him for some money. The shot stays on her for what seems like several minutes with the camera slowly panning forward as she progresses. Some may say this is boring or the work of an amateur that doesn’t know when to cut. Yet this shot becomes the essence to the plight of the character and what this film is all about. In life she is constantly moving unable to fully grasp the true dissolution of her existence she searches for something, anything while becoming a victim to life’s cruel riddle that has no answer.

This may be one of the saddest movies you will ever see because Wanda’s condition is not unique and makes up more of what the working poor go through than we care to think. It helps clarify the desperation that people in these circumstances feel while also explaining why they get into bad situations and at times make such misguided choices.

Here drifter Wanda meets up with a two-bit crook named Norman Dennis (Michael Higgins). The two create an odd relationship, which proves to be beneficial for both. She brings out his long dormant tenderness, while he, in one truly touching moment, actually gives her some confidence. Of course it doesn’t last, but it is an inspiring scene and shows that even the most pathetic of people in the bleakest of situations can still transcend themselves.

This is a powerful film with a stark, home movie-like look that is actually an asset. No stylized interpretations here. The dingy bars, restaurants, homes, hotels, and factories are all very real and the viewer feels as trapped in the grayness as the characters in a film that is far more emotionally taxing than one might initially expect.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: September 2, 1970

Runtime: 1Hour 42Minutes

Rated GP

Director: Barbara Loden

Studio: Bardene International

Available: DVD

2 responses to “Wanda (1970)

  1. Joseph Kearny

    Slow to start, but this low budget film from actress Loden is rewarding.

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