Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

I "Wanda" who's kissing her now

Cleveland Press June 28, 1971

"Wanda" won the International Critics' Prize at the Venice Film Festival. That kind of notoriety may help the movie but it can also give critics a bad name.

The movie stars Barbara Loden (Mrs. Elia Kazan) who also wrote it and directed it. Someone else is credited with the photography so some of the blame can be shared.

"Wanda" follows in the footsteps of such other actor -- made self-expression opuses as John Cassavetes' `'Faces" and "Husbands" without showing even that minimal degree of skill.

The picture is a dreary and boring story about a rootless, not very bright girl in the Pennsylvania coal mining region. That it shows the area with a degree of gritty realism cannot be denied but it doesn't show it any better than a good home movie could.

IT ALSO shares the "Easy Rider" -- "Five Easy Pieces" motif in being concerned with the study of an aimless drifter. The trouble with aimless drifter stories is that too often they result in aimless movies.

The Wanda of the title is a shoulder --shrugging gal who can't hold a husband or a job and doesn't seem to care. Separation from her husband and her children seemingly bother her not at all and she wanders into town to pick up with a series of men ending up with a petty crook.

They drive around a lot before bungling a bank job in which he is killed and she is left to drift some more

IF MISS LODEN's aim to portray Wanda as an empty, colorless person then she succeeds to such an extent that the portrayal is overshadowed by everything around including piles of coal.

The movie has been blown up from a 16mm original making it even grainier and more uneven in color than it might have been.