Wondrous Oblivion

Race issues on film tend to have a rather earnest, aren't-all-those-nasty-racists-evil feel to them. Often they miss the subtlety of the time and place that they are set and instead hit the viewer over the head with a morality tale.

Thankfully, Wondrous Oblivion (mostly) avoids this trap and tells a strong story with a valuable message. This film tells the story of brooding racism in suburban England in the 1960s, where a Jamaican family move in next door to a family of Jewish holocaust survivors and their nosy and none-too-subtle racist neighbours. Soon friendship blossoms between the son of the survivors and the Jamaican family, a friendship fostered over a joint love of cricket.

The film gently takes the mickey (I would say 'piss', but it is English after all) out of racial stereotypes, of the Jamaican family, the Jewish entrepreneur and the whiter-than-white nosy neighbours. This device means that the viewer can at different points relate to the dilemmas faced by the protagonists. The only disappointment is that the racist thug who brings the film to its climax is so utterly two-dimensional and lacking in a motivation that he is too easy to hate.

Still, good acting, a cozy suburban setting, and being one of only two films that I can think of involving cricket (the other being The Crying Game, which featured both bat and balls) all make for a film with plenty of affection without pulling its punches.


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