Wes Anderson, renowned for his distinctive style and meticulous storytelling, returns to the short film format with “The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar,” part of a series of four Netflix shorts based on Roald Dahl stories. Anderson’s penchant for adapting Dahl’s works, showcased in “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” finds a perfect match in this whimsical tale.
“The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” begins with Roald Dahl himself, portrayed by Ralph Fiennes, narrating the story of Henry Sugar (Benedict Cumberbatch), a wealthy, unmarried man in his 40s. The narrative swiftly dives into a tale within a tale, interwoven with layers of storytelling that Anderson skillfully brings to life.
Anderson’s storytelling mirrors the structure of a Russian doll, revealing stories within stories as characters narrate their experiences. The characters themselves acknowledge their presence in a short film, adding delightful asides and racing through the narrative in a playful and fast-paced manner. Each character’s tale intersects and leaves a mark on the others, illustrating the interconnectedness of the narratives.
In true Anderson fashion, the film is a visual delight, incorporating stop-motion, animation, and clever camera tricks. The attention to detail is remarkable, with meticulously designed sets and costumes that transform the narrative into a captivating play. The ensemble cast, featuring talents like Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley, brings Anderson’s vision to life with impeccable comedic timing and engaging performances.
“The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” represents a return to Anderson’s roots in short films, offering a scaled-back narrative with the same level of aspiration found in his feature films. Anderson’s ability to craft a compelling tale within a compact timeframe demonstrates his mastery of storytelling, leaving audiences captivated and craving for more.