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REVIEW — “Wendy”

“Wendy,” directed by Benh Zeitlin

Directed by Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and written by Benh Zeitlin and Eliza Zeitlin, Wendy is a take on Peter Pan that sheds new light on classic childhood characters. It follows the story of Wendy (Devin France) and her twin brothers Douglas (Gage Naquin) and James (Gavin Naquin) as they journey to a mysterious island to run from the reality of growing up.

On the island, Wendy and her brothers travel with a band of lost kids led by the outspoken, fearless, and optimistic Peter (Yashua Mack). But the longer they remain separated from the comforts of home, the greater the lesson they’re forced to learn.

Peter Pan (Yashua Mack) in “Wendy,” directed by Benh Zeitlin

Wendy is visually captivating. The contrasts between nature on and off the island make every second of this film a genuine pleasure to watch. Beyond the production quality, Wendy is most inspiring because it showcases a cast of stunning child performers.

There are only few interactions in the film that actually feel forced, staged, or scripted –– playtime is playful, and heartbreak is heartbreaking. France embodies a vision of Wendy that, while slightly underdeveloped, is far more challenging and curious than that of the well-remembered animated version.

Wendy (Devin France) in “Wendy,” directed by Benh Zeitlin

While the story is visually told with an equal mix of grace and grit, the plot is slightly less blended. Considering that Wendy is a film that makes so much of its own magic, it’s disappointing that the screenplay either leaves little room for imagination or so much space that it misguides the audience.

“Wendy,” directed by Benh Zeitlin

It’s not entirely clear which direction Wendy really wanted to go, but it’s clear that Wendy is something of modern magic.

Rated PG-13, Wendy is in theaters now. 3/5





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