A young loser in a typical small town in America has to buy a birthday present to someone he doesn't like, and buys him a small gun. But before giving it away he changes his mind and buys him a book instead, and ends up keeping the gun. Even though he is a pacifist, he really likes this gun. So much so that after a colleague, also a loser, finds out about it they start hanging out because of their shared love for guns. This grows into something much bigger, where they invite other losers in town. The Dandies are born - a group of gun-loving pacifists whose lives are better since they started wearing guns everywhere.
I suppose a movie like "Dear Wendy" doesn't really belong to this website, but because I personally have a boner for the work of Lars von Trier (whose directed films I definitely think belongs here), and appreciate the work of Thomas Vinterberg ("Festen" is one of the best Dogme '95 films!) I thought it would be fun to review this collaboration between the two Danes.
The name of this movie refers to a small gun that our main character Dick falls in love with. Something like love, at least. It all starts when he buys the gun to give to someone he doesn't like, but ends up keeping it for himself. When he brings the gun to work one day he drops it on the floor and another guy notices it. They start talking about it and find a shared appreciation for guns. The two of them go to the old mines and start practice shooting, and eventually find a power in these guns that their lives had been missing. They give them names and bring them everywhere, and all of the sudden they dare to be people. They dare to be themselves. In a sort of revelation they decide to bring in other losers from town, around their age, because they believe they have a cure. And they have. Everyone gets their own gun that they fall for, and their lives are instantly better. I suppose you can figure out that bad things will happen with these guns, right?
"Dear Wendy" is an interesting film because it's very easy to watch - it's even comedic at times. It's not a bleak, sad drama at all, but rather it's about losers finding their place in the world. And about love, even if it's towards an object. I see this as a sort of coming-of-age film. It's also a film that doesn't care about being realistic, at least not in some aspects. Because our main characters are relatively young, their obsession with the guns shows itself in youthful, playful ways. They start dressing up, playing games with each other and have their own little "club house". It's unrealistic because of what happens towards the end of the movie - it just goes too far. But it needs to, it's what we are waiting for the entire films. If you let your logic be in charge you will be sitting there talking to yourself, "That would never happen!". The climax is perfect for this film for that reason. I especially enjoyed it because it reminded me of the ending of "Young Guns".
I think Lars von Trier wrote an excellent script around the obsession because you really get into their little world after a while. And you actually learn shit about guns from watching the movie. You even start caring for the bonds between the guns and the characters. There's a scene in the movie where someone else is firing Wendy and Dick gets upset - and so did I! Trier and Vinterberg also managed to make a film set in America about pacifist teenagers obsessed with firearms without it being preachy. In fact, I'm pretty sure there is no message here. Not only because they said so in the interview, hah, but because the movie doesn't play out that way. If anything it's an experiment. An experiment to see what would happen if you put guns into the lives of tlosers, perhaps. Sometimes it doesn't have to be more complicated than that.
All the lead actors were good in their roles, I especially liked Danso Gordon as Sebastian. He could've easily became a typical asshole character who enters the group to ruin it. But instead I felt that first his character represented us, the outsider. Then we see him getting more and more into it - much like ourselves too. And even though there is a bit of rivalry between our lead, Dick, and him it's never really about that. I would have to add that Bill Pullman was surprisingly flat in this film. I can't say I am a huge fan of his, but usually I think he does better than this. But it worked in a comical sense instead, I suppose.
I really enjoyed "Dear Wendy". Nothing very political, nothing too serious. It's just an entertaining movie about a gang of losers admiring guns. It works in its own little small-town America world (where the town is very obviously a set, which gives it a special feel) without much outside influence. It's about them - there and then.