Wondrous Oblivion

first_imgPaul Morrison’s first film, 1999’s Solomon and Gaenor, was a tragedy about an Orthodox Jew’s illicit affair with a miner’s daughter in the impoverished Welsh valleys of the 1910s. His second is another period piece but it is a much more palatable one. Set in 1960, it tells the story of one long summer in the life of 11-year-old David Wiseman (Sam Smith), a Jewish second-generation immigrant whose passion for cricket far outweighs his ability. David’s German-born parents are viewed with suspicion, but with the arrival of the Jamaican Samuels family next door they are displaced as the neighbourhood scapegoats – it may be only 15 years since the end of the war but it is only two since the Notting Hill Race Riots. Friends encourage David to ignore his new neighbours, but after Dennis Samuels, (Delroy Lindo) father of the new family, erects a cricket net, the usually shy David cannot resist the lure of the game. The story is predictable. David flourishes and is picked for the cricket team; becomes more confident and more popular until he thoughtlessly betrays his mentor. Ultimately though, he of course realises that friendship is more important than athletic prowess, missing an important fixture to prove his loyalty. Wondrous Oblivion is saved from cliché however by some wonderful performances and the quiet privileging of individual characterisation over emotional histrionics. There are a couple of major movies where cricket games take place (Joseph Losey’s Accident) and there has been one film about first-class cricket (Anthony Asquith’s The Final Test), but there has never been a first-class film about such a potentially slow sport. Wondrous Oblivion doesn’t break the cinema’s duck in this area, for while cricket provides the film’s dominant motif, it is a metaphor for self-respect, friendship, teamwork and living in amicable rivalry. In its portrayal of human relationships, it is in a league of its own.ARCHIVE: 2nd week TT 2004last_img read more

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