Everyone knows the most famous Roald Dahl stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG but Netflix is hoping to educate you on more of the author's work. Adapted by Wes Anderson in his usual esoteric way, the great director was always going to pick some of Roald Dahl's more obscure stuff, wasn't he?
We've been treated to a host of Dahl shorts this week but the headline film amongst them all is The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Prior to release it was a massive hit with critics and now it is out, it boasts a stellar 96% Rotten Tomatoes score. Having watched the 40-minute film for myself, I can't help but agree with the experts.
The story is bookended with Ralph Fiennes playing Dahl himself and monologuing straight to the camera. In fact, the whole story is delivered straight to the camera by its protagonists. Like a play, we see props carried in and sets change in real-time and as a whole production it's astonishingly beautiful. reminiscent of the plays in Rushmore or the ending of the Life Aquatic.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title role of Henry Sugar, a rich man who is described by Dahl as "not a particularly bad man, but not a good one either". We spend almost as much time however with Dev Patel and Sir Ben Kingsley as we learn the secrets of the other-worldly 'Yoga powers' that Sugar wants to use to cheat casinos.
Throughout the story, there is a balance of warmth and a touch of the creepy that is a hallmark of Dahl's best works. One scene with Cumberbatch and an X-ray machine is particularly beautiful and unnerving all at once. With a PG rating, I think children of about 10 or over would really enjoy this story.