Eye For Film >> Movies >> Because of Winn-Dixie (2005) Film Review
Because of Winn-Dixie
Reviewed by: The Exile
At a time when kiddie cinema offers little beyond creepily conversational human babies and frenetically-animated superheroes, the arrival of a throwback film like Because Of Winn-Dixie is a welcome calmative for over-stimulated tots and their frazzled parents. A gentle, intensely human drama with the pacing of an old Disney classic such as Big Red and the unobtrusive moral cues of the best children's literature, Winn-Dixie should entrance all but the most attention deficit disorder-impaired.
Based on the popular book by Kate DiCamillo, the movie takes us to a rundown trailer park in a small Florida town where Opal (Annasophia Robb), a resilient 10-year-old, has moved with her preacher father (Jeff Daniels). Both are dealing with the sadness of abandonment by Opal's mother, a wall of melancholy that separates them from each other and from their new parishioners. But when Opal encounters an ungainly, exuberant mutt rampaging through the local supermarket and decides to adopt him, life gradually begins to improve.
Addressing themes of loneliness and community, hope and forgiveness, Because Of Winn-Dixie is sentimental without ever crossing the line into sappiness. Beautifully acted by a stellar cast-including Cicely Tyson as an eccentric recluse and Eva Marie Saint as a spinster librarian - the movie glides easily from humour to poignancy, reminding us we are all more than the sum of our pasts.
Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club), who has been making movies for adults for almost 30 years, is more interested in emotional truth than technical trickery; so the titular dog - which needs no digital help to resemble a cross between a Shetland pony and the rabbit from Donnie Darko - never becomes a cartoon.
Because of Winn-Dixie gains much of its resonance from lovingly created set pieces, like a pet-store scene where the clerk (played by musician Dave Matthews) serenades a rapt audience of goats and geese and bunnies and piglets. In its charming, gracious fashion, Winn-Dixie earns its emotional pay-off the old-fashioned way: with careful storytelling and not a talking baby in sight.Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2005
If you like this, try:My Life As A Dog