On Netflix: 27th September 2023
Running Time: 39m
Genre: Short, Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Director: Wes Anderson
Screenplay by Wes Anderson
Based on the Book by Roald Dahl
Featuring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Dev Patel, Richard Ayoade, Rupert Friend
Based on the collection of seven short stories by Roald Dahl, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is the latest tale by the much-beloved children’s author to be adapted to the big and small screen. It follows a guru called Imdad Khan (Ben Kingsley), who has an incredible ability to see without using his eyes and is witnessed in a hospital by Dr Chatterjee (Dev Patel) and Dr. Marshall (Richard Ayoade), who are both challenged on his claim. When Henry Sugar (Benedict Cumberbatch), a wealthy and greedy bachelor, reads about this extortionary exchange, he sets out to learn the practice of using it to cheat when playing cards and gambling.
This is everything you would expect from a Wes Anderson production but in a bitesize on-the-go way. That slick, creative approach is always on show throughout every scene and never gets tiresome to watch. From the beginning, the flow of the dialogue is always snappy and witty, as Dev Patel breaks the fourth wall to get us up to speed with the vast quantity of information we need to be informed of this fascinating man. The technique in which Anderson visually displays his characters and camera framing is similar to his most recent movie, Asteroid City, where there is a constant shifting and changing of the sets that give the style of a theatre play happening in real-time. The exuberant burst of quirkiness is ingrained into every character and scene while zipping through each scenario with comfortable pacing. The production design is stunning, and nothing less is expected when Anderson is in charge.
Anderson made this a short film instead of a feature, which was the right choice. The weight of it has that perfect measure of what is needed to make this an enjoyable and engaging watch. The story has that balance of all the components required to finish the job in 39 minutes and would not have suited the unnecessary stretching when fleshing out the plot for a feature-length. Each character serves a purpose, and the story is told in a typical style that makes you sit up and concentrate, as the essential parts are physically presented in a humourous and appealing format. The performance of the acting ensemble is superb, and each actor’s ability range and unlimited talent are mesmerising. But this genre of movie-making will only appeal to a specific type of movie lover, and in some instances, maybe just hardcore Wes Anderson fans. The whole look of the movie is that of an enquired taste that only certain people will appreciate.
Overall: 7 / 10