The Wheel of Heaven is a 2022 American sci-fi /dark comedy, written and directed by Joe Baddon with additional writing from Jason Kruppa. Joe is most known as the writer/director of the films The God Inside My Ear (2017), Sister Tempest (2020), and the short prologue to The Wheel of Heaven, Blood of the Dinosaurs (2022).

A woman caught up in predatory relationships is thrown into a multi-layered world of choices after she discovers a mystical book in a thrift store.

 

Wheel of Heaven 2023

Taking deep inspiration from one of the founders of French New Wave cinema, Agnès Varda, as well as many creators that have had their work featured on Adult Swim such as Alan Resnick, and Casper Kelly, The Wheel of Heaven could certainly be described as paradoxical in structure. Consisting of an episodic miniseries taking place on a fake public access channel, the film takes this framing device entirely seriously with the inclusion of ending credits and fake advertisement between each “episode”. At the same time, the film also features elements of a behind-the-scenes documentary, suddenly shattering the fourth wall with a jump beyond the camera and revealing the inner workings behind the production.

Beginning with the entirety of the short Blood of the Dinosaur within its first “episode”, the film expands into a multifaceted choose-your-own adventure for our protagonist leading to a multitude of different flowing narratives akin to a feverdream as the focus is thrown between these stories at a breakneck pace. Yet as the film continues, this feeling is strengthened rather than diminished—the constant reaffirmation of the unorthodox styles assaults the audience ceaselessly.

 

Wheel of Heaven 2023

Featuring an ever-changing range of visual designs, The Wheel of Heaven’s cinematography has a similar, jarring effect as channel hopping—forever pulling the rug from under the audience to re-establish a new sense of the bizarre. The use of a fluctuating aspect ratio, the interchange between colour & black and white footage, as well as a variation of digital film and VHS tape; this continuous evolution of design certainly keeps the audience from becoming desensitised to the insanity of the film’s multiple narratives.

Performing a whole host of different characters, Kali Russell does an amazing job in her role as the main protagonists. Playing Purity, Marge The Mechanic, Margaret Corn, and Captain Corn, Kali expertly imbues each of these characters with a distinctive and unbridled disposition with great skill. From shy and timid, to a level of hammy overacting that would put Shatner to shame, the dynamic range delivered by Kali is spectacular and the true driving force of The Wheel of Heaven. Furthermore, the rest of the cast manages to maintain this high standard set by Kali, with their performances being equally embellished with exaggerated mannerisms.

 

Wheel of Heaven 2023

An experience unlike anything else, The Wheel of Heaven is a frenzied delirium that consistently reaffirms itself to produce a perpetual descent into insanity. With an incredible performance from the entire cast, a diverse range of cinegraphic styles, and an enigmatic narrative, the film is unfalteringly turbulent yet thoroughly engrossing. Although the atypical storytelling may be offputting to some, for those that enjoy a more experimental approach to film production, this is certainly the film for you.

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