Tribute to Old School Country Music
Stephen Dorff transforms himself into an aspiring musician in Wheeler, a fictional documentary-type film that fooled me completely. After watching this fascinating movie, I couldn’t stop talking about the country singer Wheeler. I thought he was a real person -- and that Dorff was lip-synching the beautiful songs throughout. It wasn’t until I started doing research for my review that I realized my mistake. I think this proves what a great actor Dorff is -- as well as my lack of knowledge about country music.
Prosthetic makeup helps Dorff (The Debt) get into character here. This talented actor looks like a different person entirely in Wheeler. Dorff must have been born to portray this role. He makes us fall in love with Wheeler right away. But the way Wheeler’s friends talk about him also helps. They really, really like him! And, of course, so do we. Also adding to Wheeler’s likability are the heartfelt songs he writes and performs. The end credits say “performed by Wheeler,” but that’s actually Dorff doing the singing. My favorite? “Pour Me Out Of This Town,” which Dorff also co-wrote.
Directed and co-written by Ryan Ross (Immortals), Wheeler relies on hand-held camera work to tell the story of a man with a lifelong dream of trying his hand at country music. The singer/songwriter finally decides to leave Kaufman, Texas, and go Nashville, where he talks with real people in the business (even Kris Kristofferson), participates in open mic nights and gets discovered. Every musical number takes place in a real location and is performed live.
A singer and songwriter who
loves melody and lyrics too,
Wheeler gives his all in his songs
and does it without doing wrongs.
A storyteller at his best,
Wheeler surpasses the country test.
No stranger to hardship and pain,
he performs for more than just gain.
He wants folks to feel his work.
So heart and soul within it lurk.
Such a nice guy to everyone!
I felt sad when this film was done.
Stephen Dorff makes Wheeler quite real.
His great performance seals the deal.
The acting and songs evoke “Ahhs.”
Wheeler deserves lots of applause.
There’s a great enthusiasm for good country music all over the world. --- Willie Nelson
Country music has the great stories. --- Etta James
My definition of country music is really pretty simple. It’s when someone sings about their life and what they know, from an authentic place. --- Taylor Swift
(Released by Momentum Pictures and rated “PG” for thematic elements, a nude image and smoking throughout.)
For more information about Wheeler, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.