”One man’s trek is another man’s jaunt.” reads the tagline of Wheels, which nicely summarises the seven minute visuals written, directed and produced by David Begg. The film starts with a wheelchair, a silent yet crucial character in its own right, being carefully carried down a flight of stairs by its owner. This owner is Collin, a man who is setting off on a grand journey, for a worthy cause – friendship. His disabilities first appear striking to people around him (a girl in the yard, athletes and idlers of the park, kids on the streets and me in my cosy little chair) but the attention doesn’t appear to faze Collin, nor slow him down a bit.
The score seems well intended for sure; it’s designed to set a warm mood and help the audience follow the narrative with its soft tune, but unfortunately it did not reverberate with me. What is interesting about this film are the glimpses of the relationship between the wheels, Collin and Charlie – a rather unexpected combination of friends, one inanimate and two organic. The trio care for each other while others disregard them, and for that the film feels warm. But with the overbearing and somewhat hackneyed melody, I could not focus on Colin and his painstaking journey without feeling obliged to be touched by the film.
Watching Colin carry himself with such diligent drive was certainly moving. I also envied his peaceful cigarette, squatting to rest on carry-on wheels wherever he pleased – even on a “no parking” slot. I would have appreciated the silence and enjoyed more dialogue from him, instead of the persistent score, which muffled the sounds of the location and from Colin himself.
What is heroic about Collin is that despite his cerebral palsy, which forbids his journey to be as suave and easy as others, he takes it on anyway to help another man with greater troubles. The film’s success is in that I was able to see what’s beyond Collin’s physical movements and get to know his big heart full of self-assurance and love for others, his admirable substance as a person, which is what really matters. Collin assured me that there’s nothing wrong with him after all, that he just walks differently than I do.