'An appealing and thought-provoking film'
Vivienne DuBourdieu on Wondrous Oblivion at the Watermans
An appealing and thought-provoking film, Wondrous Oblivion looks at a youngster who is obsessed with cricket, but completely useless at the game. When it comes to establishing a presence on the pitch, 11-year-old David Wiseman (Sam Smith) is away with the fairies. Except, rather than fairies at the bottom of David’s garden, there are Jamaican girls playing cricket with their father, Dennis Samuels.
Forgetting his own father’s advice to be agreeable, but not to play with the new neighbours, David presents himself for practice in immaculate cricket whites. Irrepressible Dennis (Delroy Lindo) hides his laughter, and agrees to coach the lad.
The transformation that The Samuels family brings about in David raises his reputation at the private school he attends, and sets the scene for gossips and racist troublemakers to disrupt life in the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, Mrs Wiseman’s infatuation with Dennis raises metaphorical issues about what’s cricket, and what’s not. A little belatedly behind the ball, Mr Wiseman decides a move upmarket to Hendon is the answer.
Set in the south London during the early sixties, a time when Caribbean immigrants were reviled only marginally more than German Jewish immigrants, the film not only deals sensitively with the more obvious racial barriers, it probes the contradictions inherent in the relationships between different sets of immigrants. Vintage cricketing role models, such as Sir Gary Sobers, remind us that cricket was once known for ‘fair play.’
The leading players in Wondrous Oblivion include Emily Woof as Ruth Wiseman and Stanley Townsend as Victor Wiseman. It screens at Watermans Cinema until Thursday 27 May.