With a runtime of only 37 minutes, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar marks Wes Anderson’s second film adaptation of a classic Roald Dahl story after his 2009 hit, Fantastic Mr. Fox. Several weeks after premiering at the 2023 Venice International Film Festival, the movie dropped on Netflix.
Where can you watch The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar in the UAE?
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is now streaming on Netflix in the UAE. If you don’t have one, you can create a Netflix account to watch this movie and other shows on Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix does not offer any free trials in Dubai and the UAE, so you’ll have to subscribe for at least one month.
The story starts with Roald Dahl himself (played by Ralph Fiennes) introducing the titular character. Henry Sugar (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a wealthy bachelor with a penchant for gambling. More specifically, he likes to cheat when playing games of chance.
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One day, Henry stumbles upon a library book detailing Dr. Chatterjee (Dev Patel) and Dr. Marshall’s (Richard Ayoade) most curious encounter with circus performer Imdad Khan (Ben Kingsley). The two doctors are shocked to learn that Mr. Khan has learned how to train himself to see without using his eyes. Even with medically placed bandages, the man can still see what’s in front of him.
For an avid gambler like Henry Sugar, the idea is beyond intriguing as it would allow him to win copious amounts of money playing cards. So, he starts his journey by mimicking the methods described by Mr. Khan in hopes of becoming rich beyond his wildest dreams. But years of hard work and meditation also bring with them a level of personal growth and change in perspective Henry did not see coming.
Classic Wes Anderson
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is the first in four Dahl adaptations Anderson was contracted to make for Netflix. Filmed in Anderson’s trademark style, complete with bright colourized images and theatrical sets, the A-lister cast recites the tale as written by Dahl while looking directly at the camera. Very few, if any, of the words in the original short story were changed for the script.
It’s hard to fault the performances of the high-calibre actors in this short film. Ralph Fiennes and Benedict Cumberbatch are excellent at voicing the dry and witty sense of humour in Dahl’s story.
The film is also visually appealing with its bright colours and the boxy Academy ratio. Each set piece was perfectly designed, and we even see the stagehands changing the sets between scenes. It looks and feels like an elevated theatrical performance.
This is more of a colourful speed reading exercise than a motion picture per se. It’s in line with what we’ve come to expect from the auteur, yet this type of storytelling can get tiring.
In typical Wes Anderson style, the story features a story within a story within another story. It offers a meta-narrative delivered colourfully and whimsically.
If you’re already a fan of Anderson’s work, you’ll find this short film delightful. But if you were expecting a film adaptation of the story and not actors reading out the original short tale on screen, you’ll probably find yourself disappointed.
What are other critics saying about The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar?
Movies and Munchies praised the film for its story, detailed set pieces, and the peculiarities that make Wes Anderson movies so highly recognizable.
Austin Burke described this as a very well-made movie and thought the runtime was perfect was telling the story.
Lori C. is an entertainment writer who studied Film and Television at University. She watches and reviews films and series from most genres, but some of her favourites include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, and True Blood.