Wondrous Oblivion attempts a lot, but fails to deliver anything more than an entertaining distraction.
Wondrous Oblivion sets out to explore race relations in post-WWII England, with the influx of Sub-continental, Jewish and Caribbean immigrants causing tension in the inner city areas. It seeks to do this by portraying the friendships that develop between neighbours in spite of their different backgrounds and experiences, and the grief they are subjected to by their intolerant English hosts. Whilst trying to meet a lofty goal, it unfortunately treats the issues too lightly to have much impact. The focus on the rather nice tale of the young man being taught to play cricket by his Caribbean neighbour distracts from the undercurrents of racism and religious discrimination that could have been much more confidently dealt with. As such, the film is really quite pleasant and entertaining, but I wonder if it had avoided raising those issues and stayed purely an entertainment-piece, would it have been stronger?
The relationship between the two stars is enjoyable, and the developing friendship between the two focal families is quite moving. Delroy Lindo is reasonable, and the young star, Sam Smith, is very good. I thought the young girl who played Lindo’s daughter was excellent – with limited opportunity, she shone.
It is the failure to know what it wanted to be that causes the problems here. Had it been purely for entertainment, this may have been fun and moving. Had it focused more on the race relations issues, it may have been instructional. As it tried to achieve both, it failed to do either properly, and left me quite frustrated. Wondrous Oblivion is enjoyable, and I was moved by the friendships that develop, but this film could have been so much more…Rating: