After seven years of post-production, budding director Vlad Marsavin presents audiences with a coming-of-age fantasy for his first feature length film.
“Wonderwell” centers around 12-year-old Violet (played by newcomer Kiera Milward) as she navigates interpersonal obstacles between a modern-day Italian village and an illusory kingdom, safeguarded by the eccentric witch Hazel (Carrie Fisher).
In the real-world, Violet feels liable for mending her family’s estranged dynamic, claiming that she’s a witch. However, villainess Yana (Rita Ora) attempts to prevent Violet from making things right. With the help and guidance of Hazel in the mystical realm, Violet soon becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Overall, this film had a very bittersweet feel to it in the sense that Hazel was Fisher’s final role before her passing back in late 2016. Though it wasn’t the strongest send-off, I’d argue that Fisher’s performance is what made the film worthwhile.
Some other notable faces include Game of Thrones’ Nell Tiger Free as Violet’s sister Savannah, and Heartstopper’s Sebastian Croft as Violet’s friend and crush, Daniele. It was both interesting and heartwarming to see these two in the film, as they were far younger and inexperienced in comparison to now.
While there’s been some confusion as to when “Wonderwell” was filmed and why it took so long to be released, Marsavin disclosed that a multitude of factors played into its delay, such as Fisher’s impetuous death, the global pandemic, and post-production editing.
Cast and crew members divulged on being granted the opportunity to work with the late Carrie Fisher. “To say I’ve been in scenes with Carrie Fisher, it’s insane,” said Rita Ora. “She’s an icon – a legend”. Kiera Milward also reflected on her time with Fisher in an interview for Flickering Myth. “Carrie had this magic that changed the air of a room when she walked in, creating a calmer, at ease and more personal atmosphere,” said Milward. “To me, Carrie was the epitome of womanhood.”
As mentioned before, the most magical thing about this film was Fisher’s performance. Even then, the film itself was monotonous, both in plot structure and in acting. It’s safe to say that Rita Ora should stick to singing. It came as a satisfying shock that Kiera Milward put on a far more convincing performance than the majority of her cast mates, being it was her first on-screen role.
My primary critique of this film is that Fisher wasn’t given such a prominent role nor did her character have a significant impact on the film. Hazel was more so that of a supporting character. This was a little disheartening, as Fisher left a ceaseless legacy in the world of cinema, most notably for her work as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise.
All in all, Wonderwell caters to all ages and manages to hold some degree of attention at the hands of its technical aspects and editing.