In the Coney Island amusement park during the 1950s, the lives of four people are changed by circumstance. Ginny (Kate Winslet), a former actress who makes a living as a waitress in a clam house, and her carousel operator husband Humpty (Jim Belushi) get an unexpected visit from his estranged daughter Carolina (Juno Temple), who is on the run from her gangster husband and the mob after turning informant. Unhappy in her own marriage, Ginny turns to handsome lifeguard Mickey (Justin Timberlake), who has ambitions of becoming a playwright. Angst and turmoil are the order of the day.

Solid performances can't overcome an anemic plot that's void of
any sympathetic characters. Director/writer Woody Allen, who has given the cinematic world such gems as "Annie Hall" and "Blue Jasmine", hits the low end of the spectrum with this bleak drama. Although there are shades of "A Streetcar Named Desire", the genius filmmaker misses the mark this time around. The fault is not in the cast. Kate Winslet is magnificent in her portrayal of pure frustration - outperforming her role in this year's "The Mountain Between Us". Jim Belushi proves to be a fine dramatic actor as the rough-edged and ill-tempered Humpty. Juno Temple handles ditsy, sweet and irresponsible well. As the film's narrator and lifeguard, Justin Timberlake turns on the charm with the audience and the women in this story. Seemingly, he's a young version of Woody - wish fulfillment for the director? But even his character isn't engaging enough to root for. Usually adding a cute child will do the trick. Jack Gore does not play cute as the preteen Richie, Ginny's son from a previous marriage who loves to start fires. Only Mr. Allen's impeccable choice of songs related to the era and the fanciful landscapes of Coney Island captured by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro garner any interest. One of the tortured souls in the movie proclaims "Oh god, spare me the bad drama". No one is spared. "Wonder Wheel" spins downhill fast and never recovers. (2 CAMS)

Rated PG-13 (thematic content including some sexuality, language and smoking)
Running Time: 101 minutes

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