Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy ★★★★½

It’s slightly ironic that director Ryusuke Hamaguchi's other 2021 film Drive My Car is adapted from a short story because the vignettes in Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy are probably more “literary.” I mean that as a compliment since this is the better film of the two. The last third, especially, is a complete knockout.

Hamaguchi’s trick is rather than adapt existing literature to film—as too many auteurs have tried and failed to do well—he creates his own “literature” here. If you’re asking, “Isn’t this what all screenwriters do?” it’s not that simple. Hamaguchi has managed to bottle the intimacy and internality of the best short stories. Wheel feels like neither a book nor a film, but an alchemic mix of the two mediums that is wholly new.

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