Emily Woof in Wondrous Oblivion



Comedy and the Holocaust don’t sit easily. Wondrous Oblivion star EMILY WOOF tells Miles Fielder how she brought them together.

In preparation for her role in Wondrous Oblivion Emily Woof, who refers to the film as a ‘charrning lightweight comedy’, did a great deal of research into the Holocaust. Eh? Ain’t that what they call a non-sequitur?

Not really. Wondrous Oblivion, like Billy Elliot, to which it has been compared, is an upbeat dramatic comedy, but one with an underlying socio-political agenda - in this case a theme of racism and intolerance. Woof, the young English actress whom you may not recognise from, variously, The Full Monty, Pandaemonium and Velvet Goldmine (because she’s a character actress who immerses herself in the parts she’s cast in), plays Ruth Wiseman, a young German Jewish mother living in South London in 1960. The film’s writer-director, Paul Morrison, suggested to his leading lady an avenue of research that would provide Ruth with a ‘backstory’ and Woof with some dramatic motivation for her character.

‘When I first got cast for the part,’ says Woof, who is neither German nor Jewish, ‘I thought, “My god, I’m going to be playing a Jewish mother. I’m not the right person to play this.” I had that doubt. But when I started researching the part I realised there is no such thing as a generic Jewish mother. And the research I did


(15) 91min .0

In a grand tradition Of supposedly sexy films that have practically no sexual activity, The Girl Next Door is yet more tease with no relief. The girl Of the title is in fact Elisha Cuthbert, Jack Bauer's feisty yet eternally vulnerable daughter on 24. She's obviously got a standard no nudity clause in her contract. however, because The Girl Next Door turns out to be something Of a dry hump. Matthew (Emile Hirsch), the mild-mannered. unfulfilled high school nerd. Moving in next door to him is supposedly worldly porn star Danielle (Cuthbert). They soon fall for each other, but when Danielle's absence from work infuriates her porn baron ex-boyfriend, and Matthew has tO come up

30 THE LIST 15—29 Apr 2004

School boy fantasy

with financial compensation, the all-American kid finds himself delving into the underworld Of the sex film industry in order to save his true love

Offering a similar sermon on the triumph Of capitalism over morality that Risky Business did. the biggest failure in Luke Greenfield's overlong but passably enjoyable movie is its failure to find anything in this script (the work Of three men) that might suggest that Danielle‘s character is something more than a prize to be won. This film. like the characters, is only really interested in money. and despite engaging performances and a generally sunny demeanour, you're probably best staying away from this particular girl. (Eddie Harrison) I General release from Fri 76 Apr.



ViggO Mortensen plays the iconic all-American hero Frank T Hopkins, who travels

threw up really interesting things about who she was and her vulnerabilities.

‘I was shown,’ she says, ‘a film called Into the Arms of Strangers, the testimony of women who came over from Germany before the war as small children and were placed with English families, and their experiences were devastating. I based Ruth very much on the women who were interviewed in these documentaries.

‘When I did the research I felt so crushed. The women who were interviewed, you could feel their hurt. To be bringing that into a film that’s a light comedy was quite interesting. You can’t just sit there crying,’ she says laughing. ‘Of course, Ruth’s hurt has gone beneath; she’s now [in 1960] witty and strong. I did sometimes have to lighten up, though; I’d be playing far more intense than was required. Then you just have to internalise more.’

Woof, who started her professional acting career at the Edinburgh Fringe, where she staged a one-woman show at the Assembly Rooms two years running, takes her work seriously. She’s big on researching her roles, which includes being painstaking about getting accents right, all for authenticity’s sake. So, do the characters, I ask her, fade after filming has finished?

‘Not immediately, no,’ she says. ‘l’m always surprised, because I don’t consider myself a method actor.’

But she is a diligent performer.

I Wondrous Oblivion goes on general release on Fri 30 Apr. See review, page 32.

to Saudi Arabia to teach those stereotypical cheating Arabs a thing or two about being valiant, chivalrous. and winning horse races.

Hopkins is a champion jockey who. the film informativer tells us. was reputed tO have won 400 races and rode into his 60s The key word here is 'reputed', because Pinocchio stuck to the truth better than screenwriter John Fusco (Young


The massacre Of Native Americans at Wounded Knee sees the half-Sioux blond American Hopkins driven to drink. Rather than wallow in the treachery Of white Americans. Hopkins jumps at the OppOrtunity tO race his half-breed Spanish Mustang against Arab stallions when a snotty nosed towel-head disputes his claim about Hidalgo being the greatest endurance horse in the world.

Director Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park //I) tries to compensate for the film's inconsistencies with ever greater stretches of swashbuckling action yet Hopkin's and Hidalgo's iconic race across the desert fails tO match even the chocolate munching pleasures Of National Velvet or The Black Stallion. Although some Of the colonial stylisation (uninterestingly, Johnston directed an episode Of The Young Indiana Jones Chronic/es in 1992) is impressive. this Mortenssen post-Rings vehicle is pure horse neck and camel meat. (Kaleem Aftab)

I General release from Fri 23 Apr.

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