Tim Burton is so peculiar that it is possible to distinguish, in the same series, episodes that are directed by him from those that are not. Take the test with “Wandinha”, drama/comedy/fantasy/police that doubles as a formative novel about the eldest daughter of the monstrous Addams family.
Spoiler, the filmmaker who gave birth to “Edward Scissorhands,” “Ghosts Have Fun” and other classics directs half of the eight episodes (the whole season is worth it).
Here are the sarcastic humor, the close-ups of bulging eyes, the vibrant colors, the exaggerated movements and —possibly what attracted the director to the venture— the misfit protagonist. And, Burton’s frequent object, the nodes of the relationship between parents and children (or the absence thereof) make up the axis of the story.
Yes, Wandinha in the series is a teenager who begins to see herself in the world —here represented by the portentous Academia Nunca Mais, which receives non-standard students— after leaving the protection of the family nest.
What is possibly the most explored theme in teen fiction sounds new thanks to the filmmaker’s deft hand, with its caustic sweetness so unique and visually explosive.
The usual archetypes (the popular girl, the melancholy handsome man, the nerd, the naive and dazzled friend, the troublemakers) are there, but in “Wandinha” they are mermaids, werewolves, shapeshifters, vampires and paranormals.
Without supernatural abilities in the original version (her brand is cynicism and a taste for pain), the protagonist gained psychic powers such as clairvoyance for the series.
It is through them that she tries to unravel the mystery that drives the plot, based on serial murders caused by a monster or a serial killer (or both). It is through them, too, that she comes to occupy the place that her mother, Morticia, occupied in the past, while desperately trying to dissociate herself from the comparison.
The ascendant Jenna Ortega makes an exceptional Wandinha, with her flat tone, her suppressed emotions and her giant eyes. Catherine Zeta-Jones, like her mother, appears little but enough to stand up to Anjelica Huston’s Morticia from the 1991 film inspired by the characters created by Charles Addams.
The Wandinha from this film, by the way, is back in the series: Christina Ricci plays a botany teacher and once again a misfit —she is the only “normal girl” in a school of monsters.
It is, however, Gwendoline Christie, Brienne of “Game of Thrones”, who attracts the most attention as the lonely director of Nevermore Academy, Larissa Weems, whose smile hides all her repression.
The screenplay by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the same ones behind another teen version of an iconic character, “Smalville”, is deft enough to cater to children, teens and adults alike with its snappy, quick-witted joke dialogue, majestic artistry and well-engineered police intrigue.
The echoes of “Harry Potter”, “Mean Girls” and, above all, “Edward, Scissorhands” (perhaps Burton’s seminal work) are not few. Still, nothing perverts the character, true to her cynical and blasé essence.
The eight episodes of ‘Wandinha’ are available on Netflix.
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