Wondrous Oblivion (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/04/2004

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 106 mins

Enjoyable, sweet-natured, feel-good drama featuring strong performances from Delroy Lindo, Emily Woof and newcomer Sam Smith.

At first glance, Wondrous Oblivion might seem a little derivative: it is, after all, a coming-of-age story set in London, with a lead actor who bears a more than passing resemblance to Billy Elliot and a plot-line that makes points about racial tolerance while factoring in a climactic sporting event for that all-important feel-good factor. However, despite the apparent clichés, it is well worth checking out, as it’s easily one of the best British films of the year.

Growing Up In 60s London

Newcomer Sam Smith plays David Wiseman, a young, cricket-obsessed Jewish boy growing up in south London in the 1960s, where his family (Emily Woof and Stanley Townsend as his parents) are barely tolerated by their bigoted neighbours.

All David wants is to play cricket for the school team. The catch? He’s rubbish at it, so when a Jamaican family move in next door and David spies the father, Dennis Samuels (Delroy Lindo) teaching the daughter how to play cricket, he’s delighted to be asked to join in.

However, while David and his mother grow closer to Samuels and his family, the rest of their bigoted neighbours make life increasingly difficult for them, to the point where David has to choose between standing up for his new friends or fitting in elsewhere.

Strong Sense Of Period Atmosphere

Director Paul Morrison previously made the Oscar nominated Solomon and Gaenor and he displays a strong sense of both period atmosphere and community. He also gets terrific performances from his actors – Delroy Lindo has never been better and there’s undeniable chemistry between him and Emily Woof, who in turn gives a convincing portrayal of a woman struggling with her forbidden desires.

Sam Smith, too, is excellent – his character seems shy and slightly, well, oblivious at first, but soon comes out of his shell once the cricket lessons begin. His gradual relationship with Samuels’ daughter is extremely well-drawn.

There’s a lot to enjoy here, from the performances and the recreation of the period to several memorable scenes. Highlights include: the scenes with David learning to play cricket; Dennis taking Mrs Wiseman dancing (and David’s naïve reaction to what he sees); David’s triumphant school cricket match and a powerfully, sexually charged scene in which Dennis helps Mrs Wiseman with her flooded kitchen.

To sum up, Wondrous Oblivion is an impressively directed, beautifully acted feelgood drama that deserves to be seen. One of the best British films of the year. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 21/10/2017 16:48

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