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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A good story about families, friendship, and race that uses Cricket as the connecting pointMarch 20 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
OK, so as an American you don't know anything about Cricket. That's OK. What you need to know, the film gives you because it really isn't about the game, it's about families, friendship, and racism. Set in the 1960s London, but not tied to a specific year, we get to know David Wiseman (played invitingly by Sam Smith) as a boy full of daydreams, a tremendous love for Cricket, and absolutely no ability. He can't catch, can't throw, can't run, and can't hit. Of course, this means that his friends at the school he attends (we would call it a private school in America) make fun of him. David doesn't care because he loves the game so much he is oblivious to the state of his skills. The coaches finally put him on the team to change the scoreboard (there are lots of runs in Cricket).
He lives in a working class neighborhood with its tiny yard, and the row houses mean that the neighbors are all busybodies, too. Being the only Jewish family in the neighborhood they get treated differently, but coldly polite since it is fewer than 20 years since the end of the World War II and the holocaust. David's father has a little shop that consumes all of his time and attention. In one scene, the family is sitting around the table making cushions to sell in the shop.
David's mother, Ruth (Emily Woof), is clearly younger than the father and seems almost too pretty to be the wife of a small time shopkeeper. This becomes an important fact in the story. She is a person of dreams and emotions. And while she is devoted to her family and especially her children, the father's obsession with work denies her the emotional fulfillment she clearly needs.
A new family is moving in next door to them and somehow the neighborhood makes it the Wiseman's responsibility as to who moves in. Why, I cannot fathom. People are crushed when it is a Jamaican (read black) family. Delroy Lindo plays Dennis with real presence and emotional complexity. A very friendly man, Dennis has clearly been away from his wife and daughters for a long time. He begins setting up a practice Cricket net in their small backyard and David is in rapture. He befriends Dennis and his daughter, Lilian, whom Dennis is teaching to play the game. Dennis has great skill at the game and is devoted to it and apparently played it quite seriously.
The rest of the movie exposes the elements set out here. David becomes great friends with Judith, but the issue of race is still, sadly, in their friendship. Dennis gladly teaches David how to play the game and Ruth is grateful to him. However, the friendship she develops with the more emotionally present man next door leads to a couple of acutely uncomfortable scenes (for those who think the marriage relationship to be sacred) that reveal other important aspects about Dennis and his devotion to his wife and daughters.
The neighborhood racists exacerbate the normal tensions that exist when people suppose that race matters in the least (as almost everyone did in the 1960s). Difficult drifts to worse and a crisis occurs that wakes everyone up to the destructive nature of their bigotry.
I found this to be an enjoyable movie. It can be a good film to discuss with your children, but those two scenes between Ruth and Dennis will require some thought on how to use it with your family and probably makes the film unusable for young children. However, they might not even catch what is happening between them.
It is well acted, has a pretty good story, and as I noted, the fact that you are unlikely to know Cricket here in the U.S. is not important. It only uses Cricket as a means to tell the story, it isn't really about the game.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A movie to feel good aboutMarch 23 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
"Wondrous Oblivion" is a movie about coming to terms with differences. We are all different, yet deep within, we are all alike. Powerful proof of this is the relation between the boy in the movie (a white Jewish kid living in a Jewish neighborhood in Britain, some time in the sixties) and the black man living next door (a Jamaican family man who recently moved in). Both share a love for cricket and the sport unites them in the middle of an odd circumstance, where the rest of the neighbors embark on a racist crusade against the newly arrived black family. The boy's family overcomes their initial prejudice and stand up firm for their neighbors and what's right, as they realize how much alike they all are, in spite of the difference in the color of their skins.
Though there are a couple of moments that may not be the most appropriate for children under 13, the movie in general is a great lesson in tolerance and friendship for everyone in the family.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I really loved it!March 22 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
I am always looking for a good, coming of age movie to share with my kids, ones without the usual violence and special effects to knock you off your seat. Wondrous Oblivion delivers this and so much more as it goes straight for your heart. It's a coming of age drama with some very touching moments as two families learn more about themselves than they may have originally cared to. One family, Jews touched by the horrors of the Holocaust face discrimination in their small English town but then must face the darkness of their own prejudice when a black family moves next door. I was impressed with David's father, Victor, a man of deep conviction who struggled in silence with threats against his family while dealing with his own uneasiness and fear of the black family his son is now becoming so attached to. What I originally interpreted as stubbornness soon reveals itself as an internal conflict within his own soul.
This is a wonderful movie for families and I highly recommend watching it with your children. The lesson they will learn from this beautiful movie will last a lifetime.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Wonderfully Heartwarming Story: An Excellent Film!March 19 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
WONDROUS OBLIVION may seem a puzzling title for this film about racism, coming of age, and understanding and acceptance, but if it is meant to tag the feelings with which the viewer is left after the film, the phrase describes it well. Some critics have labeled this a cross between BILLY ELLIOTT and FAR FROM HEAVEN and while that comparison may be a bit too heavy, the films share many things in common. Writer/director Paul Morrison has stirred the pot of nostalgia with all the right ingredients the result is a film that should bring a very large audience to its feet.
The time is the 1960s in London in a neighborhood shared by Jews and other faiths. One family in particular, the Wisemans, live comfortably as German immigrants whose elder family members died in Nazi Germany. David Wiseman (Sam Smith) is eleven years old, and preoccupied with cricket, a sport for which he collects souvenir cards and idolizes players yet who has no skills at playing the game, but stays with his passion with the school team as a score keeper. His father Victor (Stanley Townsend) is all business, and his mother Ruth (Emily Woof) is a kind woman who seems to need more attention than her husband offers. Into the house next door moves a family from Jamaica - Dennis (Delroy Lindo), his wife and two daughters are happy people and play Jamaican music while they construct an odd entity in the tiny back yard, a construction that ends up being a cricket court as Dennis and his daughter are devoted cricket players.
In no time the shy David introduces himself and shortly becomes invited to join in learning how to play cricket with the warmly loving Dennis and family. David learns the game well enough to become part of the school playing team and with his increased popularity he is honored with a birthday party, a party to which his new friend form cricket lessons next door is not invited. Hurt, she refuses to play with David any more and that fact unveils a series of events that have been in existence progressively since the black family moved into the white neighborhood. David's mother is warmly noticed by Dennis and the two come very close to a love relationship. Finally a tragedy occurs that brings out all of the needs and the prejudices, the feelings and the commitments that serve to change the way each of the families in the now mixed neighborhood view each other. The tragedy becomes a blessing in disguise.
The flavor of the 1960s, the importance of familial Judaism, the joy of the Jamaican view of life and the bigotry that can decimate good people are all captured with great finesse by Morrison. The large cast is excellent with Sam Smith and Delroy Lindo giving particularly fine performances. This is a film that will warm the heart, teach us more about things we little understand, and leave us with the hope that Morrison will make more films of this high caliber. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, March 07
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Sweet coming of age story with serious overtonesSept. 28 2008
Alan A. Elsner
- Published on Amazon.com
David Wiseman, the 13-year-old hero of this sweet coming-of-age story, is obsessed with cricket -- but has no idea how to actually bat, bowl or field. The son of repressed, fearful Holocaust survivors, he is unlucky enough to be growing up in early 1960s London where racism, anti-Semitism and good old British snobbery are never far below the surface. Having grown up with a somewhat similar background in that place and time myself, I can attest that the movie is spot-on in its depiction of British society of that era. David's fortunes change when a Jamaican family moves in next door and proceeds to built a cricket net (the equivalent of a batting cage) in the narrow back garden. David is drawn to the family like a moth to a bright light. He makes friends with the father and eldest daughter who is his own age and they start coaching him in cricket. I won't give away all the plot developments of this movie. Suffice to say that the acting is very good, the characters sympathetic (with the exception of the racist extremists who raise their ugly heads) and you don't need to know anything about cricket to enjoy this movie. It was slightly spoiled for me by an overly sweet "Disney" ending in which everything is neatly and happily resolved in a way that rarely happens in real life. Still, this movie brought back many memories, sweet and bitter, for me. I recommend it.