Professor Oscar Collins (Jack MacGowran) is an absent minded scientist who today is leaving his work for the weekend. His colleagues bid him goodbye, and he reciprocates but obliviously gets their names wrong; luckily he has his course of action written on cards he carries around with him, feed the lab mice, pick up umbrella, that sort of thing. He finally makes his way back to his flat and settles down to a night of examining microbes under his microscope, but he is interrupted by the sound of music emanating from the apartment through the wall. He bangs on the wall and calls for quiet, but this doesn't seem to work, so he presses his face up against a small hole in the wall to see what's going on...
Wonderwall, if it was remembered for anything at all, was the inspiration for the title of the popular Oasis song from the nineteen-nineties, not because of the work's merits, but because it featured music composed by then member of the Beatles, George Harrison. He wasn't the first Beatle to compose a film score as Paul McCartney had beaten him to it two years earlier with The Family Way, but he did provide Wonderwall with its claim to fame, fame which didn't amount to much due to it being barely released at the time, and simply a footnote in the careers of those involved.
The story was conjured up by Gerard Brach, frequent collaborator of Roman Polanski, and the film does vaguely resemble a more light hearted Repulsion. The script was by G. Cabrera Infante and is pretty low on the dialogue, with long stretches of dreamy eyed psychedelia, which suits Harrison's India-influenced tunes. What Collins sees when he looks through the wall is none other than sixties icon Jane Birkin as model Penny Lane, posing artfully in hues of many colours. So begins an instant obsession with his neighbour, who we never hear speak, and she never talks with Collins either although she's less of an enigma than you might expect.
That this chance awareness of Penny is special is clear when a broken collection of butterflies under glass suddenly take flight and flutter around in animated form. However real life continues to intrude, as when Collins' cleaning lady (Irene Handl, somewhat predictably) arrives to tidy up the cluttered flat and prevents his secret spying of Penny going much further until he persuades her to come back another day. From then on Penny's exotic life is like a drug to him, as he drills extra holes in the wall, all the better to see her with, and he stops going to work much to the concern of his assistant (Richard Wattis).
Although ostensibly a psychedelic piece illustrating the far out shenanigans of the era, what Wonderwall really illustrates is how for most people the swinging sixties were pretty mundane and the glamorous life some were leading wasn't all it was heralded as. Some degree of imagination has gone into the fantasy scenes, with a dream sequence seeing Collins doing weird battle with Penny's boyfriend (Iain Quarrier) using giant props like huge pens, cigarettes or lipstick. Quarrier also appears as Superman, with the "S" on his chest added to with an "L" and a "D" - LSD Man presumably and not pounds, shillings and pence man. But even Penny isn't enjoying herself, as Collins eventually finds out and his investigations become a rescue attempt by the end. The film has a period charm, but the naive simplicity of its presentation could grate on viewers not in the mood.