If you are someone who enjoys neurotic characters in realistic-looking relationship dramas, then you will most likely find “The Wheel” appealing. The plot revolves around a married couple who during a weekend retreat, will determine whether they will divorce or remain together after eight years of marriage.
Trent Atkinson wrote the screenplay for “The Wheel,” which was directed by Steve Pink and had its world debut at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. The critical last scene, in which the two couples engage in an emotionally intense dialogue while riding a Ferris wheel, kind of serves as the source of the title for the film.
It is, in my opinion, an allude to the unending cycle of dysfunction and suffering that may develop when individuals in relationships don’t communicate well. In spite of its shortcomings, “The Wheel” at least portrays people and relationships as occasionally untidy and imperfect. Up until the film’s very final scene, which is the greatest sequence of the whole movie, “The Wheel” barely extends the core married couple’s “will they or won’t they break up” conundrum.
The movie’s starts off with a scene where the two protagonists, and married couple, Albee (Amber Midthunder) and Walker (Taylor Gray) are seen fighting and arguing over something.
Living in California, where the movie was filmed on location in Angelus Oaks and Malibu, Albee, and Walker, both of whom are around 24 years old, reside there. Walker’s occupation is left unclear in the film, but Albee is an aspiring actress.
Walker and Albee, both are Texans, experienced a rapid upbringing in the foster care system. They most likely got married to each other at the age of 16, to feel like they could have a stable family life after growing up in foster care. And now, in the current time, their marriage has reached a critical point. Albee tells Walker in the opening scene of the film that she finds him annoying while they are somewhere outdoors. Walker says he doesn’t know why she’s angry with him but that he’s sorry for whatever he did and would try to make up for it.
His apology just makes Albee even more upset because of Walker being unaware of what made her angry in the first place. Albee doesn’t want to give an in-depth explanation to Walker. And she becomes even more agitated because of Walker’s unawareness about the reason for her anger. The argument continues when Albee and Walker are in the middle of dinner.
Eventually, Albee and Walker call a conjectural truce in this argument. However, this disagreement evokes a sense of how Albee and Walker communicate for the majority of the film. Albee asserts Walker will have the ability to read her mind and will instantly understand how to make her happy. Albee wants Walker to make him happy, but she never tells him that she loves him just as much as he does.
Walker is a firm believer in the power of love and wants to keep the union together. Albee is more reluctant to stay married to Walker because she is a pessimist, but she also fears being alone and being harmed by divorce. Walker is still in love with Albee and wants to rekindle the romantic fire in their marriage, but Albee gives the idea that she may have lost interest in him.
Eventually, Albee and Walker settle on renting a cabin for a weekend getaway. Walker and Albee make the decision to decide the future of their marriage during this retreat before departing.
Additionally, they make a commitment to be completely honest with one another, regardless of the merits of their remarks. They rented a property through Airbnb, where the hosts Carly and Ben, an engaged couple in their 30s, lived right next to them. Shortly after reaching the cabin, Albee and Walker get a warm welcome from Carly. However, Carly was swift enough to sense the tension between them, despite of Albee and Walker being very amiable to her.
Shortly after Carly left, Albee comes out and admits that Albee and Walker are using this vacation to determine whether or not their marriage is worth preserving. It’s a strange situation, but Carly is intrigued to see if she can aid Albee and Walker. Carly decides to act as an unofficial relationship counselor to these two strangers for the majority of the time in the movie.
When Albee sees that the cabin doesn’t have WiFi and she can’t get a signal on her phone, she becomes immediately irritated. She exits the house and is thrilled to be able to receive a phone signal. Albee picks up her phone and starts texting someone, and Walker can’t help but notice that she’s been happily doing it. The identity of this mysterious person is finally made known.
Walker remarks, “If we can get through these last six months, we can get through anything,” to Albee while they spend their first night in the cabin together while she smokes a joint of marijuana in the sauna. We’ll be OK, right? Albee queries.
Walker exits the room without responding to the question since he can tell that Albee is not interested in discussing their relationship in any depth. Even later that night Albee rebuffed Walkers efforts for physical intimacy, stating that she didn’t feel like doing it. The movie back and forth keeps showing Walker’s constant desire to show Albee love, passion, and respect, but she consistently keeps rejecting him!
Carly and Ben discuss the married couple’s asymmetrical married life on the first night of their stay. Walker seems decent, in Carly’s opinion, but she believes that Albee is the type of lady who feels superior to her boyfriend. As a result, Ben already has a bad opinion of Albee when he meets Walker and Albee later. Ben, who is laid-back and also caustic, and Albee, who frequently treats people rudely, wind up arguing and insulting one another. In disputes between Walker and Albee, Carly makes an effort to mediate.
In addition, Albee and Walker had multiple heated exchanges and long silences. These arguments and refusals to communicate throughout marriage begin to wear thin after a while. You’ll likely start to hope that Albee and Walker would decide to stay together or go their separate ways about the midpoint of this 83-minute film.
And why does Carly feel such a strong connection to these two strangers and is so eager to interfere in their union? It appears that Carly and Ben are also experiencing some relationship difficulties. Making wedding arrangements excites Carly. Regarding Ben, Not at all. Carly believes that this is because males aren’t normally as active in wedding preparation as women are.
After some time, it becomes clear that Carly wants to serve as Albee and Walker’s unofficial relationship counselor because she believes she is losing control of her own relationship. Carly is a hopeless romantic who believes that by just displaying enough empathy, she can “fix” problems in relationships.
She even goes so far as to urge Ben to surprise Albee and Walker by providing them with a portable table filled with breakfast items so that they may have breakfast in bed. He agrees to the plan reluctantly, but Ben has nearly entirely the opposite reaction to Carly. Ben believes that Albee and Walker should handle their marriage on their own and that he and Carly should keep their distance.
He holds the opinion that certain relationships cannot be saved, no matter how much counseling is provided. Ben claims that Albee reminds him of the women he has dated for the past 20 years in unsuccessful relationships, and he finds Albee to be quite aggravating.
Midthunder and Gray deliver compelling performances as the pair tore between staying together and ending their relationship, despite certain instances of overacting between the two of them. As the less volatile pair Carly and Ben, Lind and Lee perform adequately in their parts, with Lee’s acting abilities occasionally coming out as stiff and wooden.
Pink’s directing of “The Wheel” creates enough suspense for viewers to be intrigued about what will happen to these couples, yet the film occasionally passes off timidly. Several sequences will likely include a pouting Albee and a dejected Walker gazing off into space.
Because both relationships are disintegrating in their own unique ways, Carly and Ben counter to Albee and Walker. Albee and Walker made their marital strife very visible, whilst Carly and Ben kept their issues to themselves.
The film deftly illustrates how those with poor self-esteem, like Albee, don’t believe they deserve love. And when these extremely insecure people are offered real love, they frequently desire to drive that person away or hurt that person first in order to prevent getting hurt themselves.
The Wheel” depicts a fascinating image of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Additionally, it involves having the guts to forge on through relationship minefields and the fortitude to end a relationship that isn’t worth preserving and is a recommendation from our side as a must-watch.
Where to Watch “The Wheel”
The Wheel is available to stream on Hulu. You can also stream it with Hulu+ live. The HBO Max add-on comes with a seven-day free trial and costs $14.99 per month included, in which you can get Disney+ and ESPN+ as a bundle. Hulu and Hulu Live TV starts at 69.9$, and there are more than 80 live channels available. And the ad-free edition costs about $75.99.