Virtual Cinema | “My Wonderful Wanda” Is a Humanistic Masterpiece April 16, 2021
In My Wonderful Wanda, filmmaker Bettina Oberli takes her eponymous character away from two sons in Poland to a caretaking job for a wealthy Swiss family in a gorgeous lakeside villa. Poor and willing to do anything to earn extra cash, Wanda is quickly taken advantage of by the family. She is swept up in their altercations and receives romantic advances from both her bed-ridden, recovering stroke-victim patient, Josef, and his shy son. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Meeting the Family
This human comedy is told in three parts, with each chapter following a different period of time that Wanda stays with the family. In her first trip, Wanda is introduced to the many insecurities and personalities within the family. Her main adversary appears to be Sophie, Josef’s arrogant daughter. Then again, it could be Josef himself, who is willing to cross the line with Wanda no matter what the consequences his actions have on her job or her standing with the rest of the family.
A Surprising Reveal
What begins as a commentary on class and immigration, possibly even undocumented work, soon becomes a powerful and often humorous study of family and motherhood. The tension builds throughout the film as each family member creates new waves for Wanda, leading to a surprising midpoint reveal that promises to change the family dynamics forever.
Emotional yet Heartfelt
Despite its many emotional themes, the film masterfully stays heartfelt and sweet. Even the spoiled daughter, Sophie, is transformed into an identifiable character, perhaps the funniest and most sympathetic character of all. My Wonderful Wanda won the Nora Ephron Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
About the Author
Todd Green is a Houston-based copywriter and screenwriter. He wrote and directed the award-winning 2018 feature film Avalanche, and he is co-chair of the 2022 Houston Jewish Film Festival.
Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lois Chiles Foundation; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.