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Actress/filmmaker Barbara Loden both directs and stars in the stark little character study Wanda. She plays a girl from a remote mining town, timidly searching for security and love in the big city. After several desultory and abusive relationships, Wanda is "saved" by Dennis (Michael Higgins), who turns out to be a petty crook. Stylistically, Wanda is spare, lean, and understated -- on every level. Loden originally shot the film on 16 mm, then blew it up to 35 for arthouse showings.
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Critic Reviews for Wanda
If there is a female counterpart to John Cassavetes, Barbara Loden is it.
A brilliantly atmospheric film with a superb performance by Loden.
Wanda is the singular vision of an artist who hailed from surroundings as bleak and limited as her title character's.
The film is all the more impressive for its refusal to get embroiled in half-baked political attitudinising.
...a solid characters study and fine debut, and swan song (Loden died in 1980 after battling cancer), for an unrequited filmmaker.
A sometimes incoherent primal scream, directed not at any particular target but at the state of the American dream in the late 1960s, especially as it applied to women.
This intelligent and original film is a prime example of the great films truly indie directors can make.
Audience Reviews for Wanda
Wanda is a interesting experimental / independent film, that presents a sad and boring "Bonnie and Clyde" lifestyle with lost characters and empty life. The title character Wanda is so alone, that, stay with the person that most hate her, this is the level of dumb and sadness in both people on Wanda. Loden's drama it's in the my list of the most disappoint films that I ever saw. Rotten.More
a very bleak and yet very intriguing debut for writer/director/ lead actress barbara loden, who was at the time elia kazan's wife. the film couldn't be more different in style from kazan's work; it's as minimalist as can be, shot in cinema verite style with improvised dialogue. the title character has no direction in life and seemingly wanders from one bad situation to another. at first i was frustrated with her and her inane actions but as the film went on i became more and more anxious for her welfare, especially after she falls in with a criminal who bullies her into assisting him in a bank robbery. loden has said she wanted to make 'bonnie and clyde' without the romanticism and that, coming from an impoverished background, she may well have ended up this way herself. kudos for her honesty and determination in getting this film made, with little to no support from her husband. and it's a pity she never made another film; she died of breast cancer in 1980More
This movie proves that just because it's independent doesn't mean it's good didn't just apply to the 90's. This movie is just God Awful. Barbara Loden should have let her husband (Kazan for Christ's sake) take a crack at this. I put this on the que because it was described as something I would like as a fan of Cassavettes. This movie is nothing like that ANYTHING that Cassavettes ever made and it's sad that people raped his style and then no one called them on it. I could understand if the main character wasn't such a complete and utter mongoloid (which might have been more interesting) moron who stumbles through the movie and gets into some pretty stereotypical circumstances (oh, yeah, you met a criminal, huh? Not too mention one that was twice your age. Oh, yeah, you should totally run away with him, but let me warn you that if he keeps robbing banks he's probably going to get caught and have to decide whether he wants to go back to jail or go out in a blaze of glory. Not to mention the fact that he treats you like shit.) This is the movie that people say they like because Pauline Kael wrote a good review about it back in the seventies.More
I want to begin this review by saying I did not watch Wanda on my own free will; it was screened in my film class at school. Had I not been told about it by my professor, I would have never heard of this. Wanda is perhaps the most no-name film I've ever seen; equipped with a tiny budget and bad actors, it makes a lot of sense as to why this film made no audience or money. To be honest, I was expecting worse; it was pretty bad, but not as terrible as I was anticipating. The first 20 minutes or so is forgettable nonsense and the main chunk of the movie (which is the middle) is alright. It reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde, as a criminal named Mr. Dennis slowly teaches the naive and idiotic Wanda the ropes of being a criminal. The ending seemed completely out of place and did not properly but a cap on what the movie showed us, so overall it amounted to nothing. The acting was also pretty bad, mainly from supporting roles. The best parts of Wanda were a couple of relatively humorous scenes that showcased Wanda's naivety and, well, dumbness. Overall, I wouldn't recommend Wanda to anyone but the most die-hard of art house fans.More
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