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Dear Wendy (Unrated)

Release Date: September 23rd, 2005 (NYC-Angelika Film Center) by Wellspring.
The Cast: Jamie Bell, Bill Pullman, Michael Angarano, Danso Gordon, Novella Nelson, Chris Owen, Alison Pill, Mark Webber
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg.

BASIC PREMISE: Dick (Bell) starts an underground gang called "The Dandies" with a bunch other youths.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: It is initially fun to watch how Dick forms the gang by choosing their names and what kind of gun they should use. Their training process is lively, exciting, and even funny at times. Once their gang is let loose over ground, the plot goes haywire and becomes pointless. The town's sheriff (Pullman) is not very bright or threatening. On top of that, Pullman gives a mediocre performance. There is an interesting subplot about one of the gang members who had a history of violence and, after being released from prison, is not allowed to even touch a weapon. Predictably, he does more than touch a gun: he helps to provide the gang with more guns. There is a suggestion of romance between Dick and Susan (Pill), the only female member of the gang. Unfortunately, the script is too weak to make any of the characters lively and interesting. The final act of the plot is particularly contrived and very chaotic. If only the violence had a coherent point with more tension and discernible conflicts, this would have been a much more engaging film. The cinematography is quite good, though, especially when you get to see the bullets actually enter the victims' bodies like in an x-ray.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: It is difficult to understand what screenwriter Lars von Trier is trying to say about guns and violence other than the obvious: the possession of guns lead to violence. He might be trying to say that the American glamorization of violence is stupid and pointless, but the script provides with no insight into this argument. Ironically, this is a film that makes him look stupid as well because most of the film is a chaotic mix of anger and uncomfortable disdain. Nothing new or though-provoking is said or done in this film.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Minimal character development, pointless violence, redundant plot, mediocre acting, and a very contrived third act.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Despite good cinematography and a promising, lively start, it all goes downhill from there.


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