What a Wonderful World
Now Showing at: Cincinnati World Cinema on Sunday Nov 15 at 4 pm
and Wednesday Nov 18 at 7:30 pm
Review by: Larry Thomas
Sometimes you go to a movie and are puzzled by what is on screen. And at the end, wonder "what did I just see?" What a Wonderful World is just such a film. It's primarily about a traffic cop; her best friend, who is a prostitute and housecleaner; and the prostitute's favorite client, a contract killer. Almost sounds like a setup for a joke. But it's a setup for an unusual film with a tremendous amount of style that will dazzle your eye and delight your ear.
Filmed in Casablanca, in French and Moroccan, What a Wonderful World has some of the most impressively framed shots I've seen in years. There are tracking shots, wide-angle wide screen images that fill the screen, vast high-angle downward perspectives, and some great close-ups, all courtesy of the camera of Gordon Spooner, a relative newcomer to the cinematography field, who works primarily in France. The whole package is written, edited, directed by, and starring Fauozi Bensaidi, and it's an obvious labor of love.
In addition to the three main characters, there's a young man who is doing everything possible to immigrate to Europe, and his wheelchair bound father who tries to help.
The action is accompanied by an unusual selection of music by Jean-Jacques Hertz and Philippe Roy, along with regional pop tunes. In many scenes, visuals are choreographed to the soundtrack, so that it's almost like you're watching a musical. Once it's made obvious that one of the film's big influences is the Bollywood genre from India, in which any kind of film always has out-of-the-blue musical numbers, it all jells. The performances, the style, the music, the photography, all blend together into something amazingly unique.
What a Wonderful World is not a comedy, but it has humor. It's not a musical, but your toes will be tapping. It is a wistful, tragic love story in an exotic location, made by filmmakers who have style to spare. And once it's over, your first thought may very well be… I need to see that again.
The unrated What a Wonderful World is a presentation of Cincinnati World Cinema, and is showing at Covington's Carnegie Arts Center. Performances are today at 4 pm, with an encore showing Wednesday evening at 7:30. There will be a cash bar social hour preceding the film, and discussion following. I'm guessing there will be lots to talk about.