Wendy

Wendy is an ambitious but uneven effort from writer/director Benh Zeitlin, whose previous feature Beasts of the Southern Wild was a similarly fantastical adventure yarn that tackled big themes and emotions while flirting with ridicule throughout. A bold re-imagining of J.M. Barrie's beloved Peter Pan from the point of view of Wendy Darling (played here by a very impressive Devin France), the story follows her and her older brothers as they are carried away from their humble home to a mysterious island by the enigmatic and eternally young Peter Pan (Yashua Mack). The island they travel to is one in which time and aging seem to be forever suspended, allowing its orphaned inhabitants to stay young forever without the supervision of adults. The film employs a deliberately loose narrative but it is nonetheless one that leads to long stretches (particularly in the middle) that are curiously devoid of a strong dramatic pull. Wendy is a film that boasts no shortage of memorable visuals and soulful performances from a talented young cast, but the emotional story feels a little hollow. This has been a long in-production passion project for Zeitlin and I wonder if perhaps the young filmmaker had too much time to absorb this material, because while it may mean a great deal to him and his collaborators I fear audiences will be left wondering what the hell he was trying to say. Originality is in short supply these days and it pains me to dog on a film that strives to take chances and do something different with familiar material as Zeitlin is clearly trying to do, unfortunately Wendy proves less than the sum of its parts in the end.