“Wednesday”: Tim Burton meets the Addams Family at Netflix

From the first minutes, the series Wednesday don’t do lace. Like a sociopath, a teenager dressed all in black walks coldly through the colorful corridors of a Nancy Reagan high school. Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) wants revenge on those who bully her brother Pugsley. Because, you see, she alone has “the right to torture him”.

An asocial among the marginalized

At the Addams, revenge is not a dish that is eaten cold, but that is served rare, as the tormentor of Pugsley will realize.

Expelled from her too classic high school, an unrepentant Wednesday joins the Nevermore Academy, reserved for marginal teenagers like her (and where a certain Edgar Allan Poe studied). His parents, Gomez and Morticia studied there. They haven’t left each other since.

Wednesday does not feel more integrated there than elsewhere. The antisocial finds the clans formed by high school students according to their particular abilities just as stupid.

But his boredom and the annoyance provoked by his roommate, the overly enthusiastic Enid, are quickly diverted by the violent deaths which multiply in the neighboring woods.

Mercredi, who dreams of being a novelist, leads the investigation. Over the episodes (and deaths), she will discover the secrets of Nevermore, her family and the violent past of the neighboring town of Jericho, founded in the 17th century by Protestant pilgrims.

Harry Potter among the freaks

Wednesdayit’s a bit like Harry Potter among freaks. Or at Tim Burton, who co-produced the series and directed the first episodes. The meeting between the director ofEdward Scissorhands and the Addams Family brat looks so natural on screen you wonder why she didn’t show up sooner.

To read: Tim Burton: “Cinema saved my life”

The eight episodes do not disappoint, with a few nuances. As the title suggests, the series centers on Wednesday, not the Addams Family, although Morticia and Gomez, her parents, play a significant role in it.

The fantastic dimension is preponderant. Wednesday evolves in the middle of vampires, werewolves, gorgons or mermaids. She discovers psychic powers.

If the outcome of the intrigue, voluntarily tortuous, is guessed quickly, it is its progress which is pleasant. The progression of the eight episodes is skilfully balanced: the events that punctuate the school semester (visit to the neighboring town, competition between the students, ball) punctuate the first episodes while being the occasion for tragic events.

The fourth episode gives Wednesday a welcome moment of externalization during the Corb’al (Rave’N in English), the prom.

feminist and youngist

The series has all the trappings of fashionable teen productions that Netflix uses and abuses (Sabrina, Umbrella Academy, Teen Wolf, Midnight Club…): multicultural cast, inherent rebellion, ode to difference… Not to mention the fantastic dimension, some thrills and intrigues and love rivalries – around Tyler (Hunter Doohan) and Xavier (Percy Hynes White).

Feminist and youthful devil (Wednesday does not let himself be told neither by the boys, nor by the adults), Wednesday makes her heroine even more modern and piquant than in previous adaptations.

The plot makes her, through the story of her distant origins, the very prototype of the witch: the woman doomed to the stake because she is free and independent. She frightens because she represents a threat to the patriarchal order. (Any resemblance to reality…)

To read: Tim Burton, illegitimate son of Disney

Burton and his cronies have fun settling accounts with the social norms of right-thinking America or the idealized vision of its past and its foundation – episode 3 where the high school students visit the Pilgrim World amusement park is particularly tasty .

Burton’s touch shines through in a few recurring motifs: the twisted tree that sits in the middle of Nevermore’s courtyard and the spiraling lair are straight out of his movie sleepy hollow.

Flawless cast

We also find the first female role of the same film, Christina Ricci, who was also the interpreter of Wednesday in the two The Addams Family by Barry Sonnenfeld.

In the archives of La Libre: Christina Ricci, actress in permanent revolution (2004)

The cast of the series is virtually faultless. Jenna Ortega is a perfect Wednesday, expressive despite her deceptively impassive face. She is right in the slightest stiff step or the subtlest quivering of the lips. She even manages to translate the inner jubilation of the teenager who never smiles.

At his side, Emma Myers is a charming Enid, roommate whose enthusiasm and exuberance hide a malaise (her lycanthropy is slow to manifest itself). Gwendoline Christie composes a director who is both imperial and benevolent, but full of mystery – a blonde mother figure antithetical to Morticia.

Wednesday/Wednesday. Fantasy comedy – Series created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar – Director: Tim Burton (1-4), Gandja Monteiro (5-6), James Marshall (7-8). With: Jenna Ortega, Gwendoline Christie, Emma Myers, Hunter Doohan,… Eight episodes of 48 min. On Netflix from November 23.

stars Arts Libre cinema ©LLB

“Wednesday”: Tim Burton meets the Addams Family at Netflix