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Wondrous Oblivion

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2004-04-26

Sam Smith and Emily Woof

Sam Smith and Emily Woof

Set in 1960s London, Wondrous Oblivion focuses on a young Jewish boy who wants nothing more than to be good at cricket – but his ambitions soon land him in trouble with the locals. SJ’s Caroline Westbrook reviews the film.

Eleven-year-old Jewish boy David Wiseman, the son of European immigrants, is a cricket fanatic, and wants nothing more than to be good enough to join the school team – the only problem being that when it comes to actually playing, he’s useless. His luck changes when his new neighbours, a Jamaican family, put up a cricket net in their back garden and start to give him some coaching – but this being 1960s London, his friendship with the neighbours doesn’t sit too well with the other locals, who have barely learned to tolerate his own family.

That’s the premise of Wondrous Oblivion, the latest film from director Paul Morrison (whose debut, the Welsh/Yiddish language romance Solomon and Gaenor, was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars in 1999). It’s the second British Jewish-themed film to arrive on UK cinema screens in as many months (following on from Suzie Gold) but the two films couldn’t be more different. While the film’s central family are obviously Jewish, the main theme is that of immigration and being accepted as a stranger in a strange land – and it’s sensitively handled by Morrison, who throws in lots of gentle comedy and an element of fantasy to counteract the more dramatic moments.

Young actor Sam Smith is charming as David, and there are good supporting turns from the likes of Delroy Lindo, Emily Woof and Stanley Townsend who, fresh from playing a Jewish dad in Suzie Gold, plays another Jewish dad here.

The film works best as a coming-of-age drama, when it is focusing on David’s story; some of the sub-plots are less convincing while the ending wraps everything up just a little bit too nicely for its own good. That said, it’s a charming little effort which cinemagoers of all ages should enjoy, and Morrison deserves praise for once again making a film which tackles Jewish themes and issues without resorting to stereotype and cliché.

Wondrous Oblivion is out now, Certificate PG