We Americans like to see guns in movies. And we prefer the most violent and bizarre showcasing of guns possible: schoolboys and guns, gang members and guns, aliens and guns, blonde supermodels and guns. But Dear Wendy takes the cake—it combines teens and guns in a way that's both original and unrealistic.
The film takes place in an Old Western sort of anonymous, iconic American mining town. Dickie (Jamie Bell) is a sensitive, imaginative pacifist who—after mistakenly purchasing a real gun from the window of a toy shop—becomes obsessed with the weapon, even naming it "Wendy." Soon, Dickie and his friend Stevie (Mark Webber) are sneaking off to an abandoned mineshaft to practice shooting their antique firearms. Their interest escalates, and Dickie and Stevie even convince other young misfits in town to join them in establishing a gun club. Calling themselves the Dandies, they begin prancing around town as creative anachronists. The situation becomes tense, however, when the town sheriff asks Dickie to watch over Sebastian (Danso Gordon), a criminal recently convicted of blowing another man's brains out.
Okay, so realism's long gone—but there's still plenty of redeeming value in Dear Wendy. Screenwriter Lars von Trier gives his teenage characters complex inner worlds, and their philosophical enchantment with guns is taken to gripping, poetic heights while director Thomas Vinterberg infuses the dusty, middle-of-anywhere America setting with a lingering fairy-tale quality. As far as flights of fancy go, Dear Wendy is an original and—in spite of its subject matter—surprisingly light cinematic engagement.