An intimate portrait of family members and friends over four days in london. Love loss birth and death. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 08/24/2004 Starring: Shirley Henderson Molly Parker Run time: 108 minut... more »es Rating: R Director: Michael Winterbottom« less
"This may be the best film of 2000 (at least that's when it was released in Australia). Whilst film-makers like P.T. Anderson have made admirable attempts at personal drama in the last few years, and Mike Leigh continues to tell us that no-one suffers like the poor (as if we didn't know that), Michael Winterbottom has re-defined the genres. This is English kitchen sink drama without the tired clichés of class wars, which have seemed a bit anachronistic since the fall of the Tories. Shot in a stunning cinemascope (1:2.35) and available light, with the tiniest of crews, this is London as you've only seen it if you've seen it for yourself. The cast shines. I defy anyone to make it through this film without falling in love with Gina McKee. That's not to say that Shirley Henderson and Molly Parker are anything less than charming. Ian Hart is wonderfully moronic, as Stuart Townsend is wonderfully creepy. Keep an eye out for the beautifully natural performance of David Fahm as Franklyn. Jack Shepherd, Kika Markham and John Simm round out the main cast with equally powerful performances. A great script from first time screen-writer Lawrence Coriat. Michael Nyman turns out his most subtle and restrained music score yet. Michael Winterbottom is turning out to be the Stanley Kubrick of the 21st century. Who else has been able to jump form one genre to another with such ease and grace? This is a compelling film, well worth having your own copy of."
One of the best films of 2000....
Staci Beasley | 03/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A small jewel of a film, gritty in look, deep in its exploration of isolation, sibling relationships and human frailty, Winterbottom, who has been largely overlooked in the US, is one of the most deft of the younger British filmmakers. The fundamental themes of the film- relationships of all sorts, closeness and isolation, and life's tenuous balance between despair and faith (not in the religious sense), are aptly explored with humor and tender sarcasm. The film was shot with a wonderfully dark grainy look, employing handheld cameras under natural lighting conditions, showing us a gritty London few films have. This is not a bright and shiny "Notting Hill"! Some of the cinematography in the film, especially the nights scenes, is just top notch. The film is as visually striking as Soderbergh's "Traffic".The lead actresses are all terrific, but Gina McKee is truly memorable, portraying the tremendous loneliness, yet touching hopefulness, of her character in her finest performance to date."
What It Is.
Staci Beasley | Norman, OK | 07/08/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Watching this film, I was struck at the ambition of the film maker. A small family drama is told in the large scope of a sprawling city. This story of three sisters, their parents, their lovers, and their neighbors is a messy, yet elegantly nuanced slice of life. The acting is natural. No character is perfect and the exposition of the story is quiet and imprecise. The viewer is bound by the small details of the characters' lives. The city of London is not just a landscape, but an entity unto itself, complete with its own music. For better of worse, the film lacks centrality and it is hard to empathize with every character. The murkiness of the family backstory is frustrating at times. Attempting to apply a moral construct to every sequence of the film is useless. To me, this movie had strong echoes of Mike Leigh's films. Does the movie work? Sort of. Are the charcters revealed in a satisfying manner? Yes. Is the film's arc and execution admirable? Yes. Is the movie enjoyable? Not really. The actors did a tremendous job. Gina McKee is fine as Nadya, the emotional touchstone of the film. Canadian Molly Parker does credit to her English accent. My particular favorite performance is that of Shirley Henderson (Bridget Jones, Harry Potter). She is wonderfully natural as the cheerful, tarty single-mom sister. All in all, this film is better than fine but not great."
It's naturallity makes it stand out
giovanni | Greece | 08/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At the beginning , Wonderland doesn't seem to have the right elements in order to fascinate the viewer . It's characters are ordinary , unappealing people : a woman who is so bitter about everything that led her own son away from home , a t.v-salesman who has isolated himself from all the people which surround him that even his own mother can't help but confessing that " ... It feels like i have a stranger in my own house " , a divorced hairdresser with a teenage boy and an imature ex-husband she has to put up with . All of them are inperfect , all of them have insecurities and all of them face various kinds of troubles everyday . As minutes go by though something strange happends . Remember those unappealing people we were talking about ? Well , slowly as we get to know them we start to like them . They all feel so familiar to us , they could easily be our next door neighbours . Winterbottom studies his heroes very carefully and manages to capture the feeling of the daily mess we all have faced before . His movie is set in Southern London , a place he presents like it's some kind of a secret garden with lost souls in it trying to find their peace of mind . What makes Wonderland work so well is also the fact that it's being carried by an unfamiliar to most of us yet highly talented group of actors . Some of them had small parts in relatively more known pictures ( N.Hill , Shooting Fish ) , most of them we meet for the first time . Finally the music is absolutely brilliant , especially those wonderfull pianno parts that it's almost impossible to the viewer to imagine Wonderland withought this particular soundtrack ."
Michael Winterbottom and the compassionate gaze
Caitlin Jordan | 08/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like the more recent film Code 43, Wonderland is marked by director Michael Winterbottom's realist style. The grainy images of London don't have a tourist brochure look, but they do give you a sense of what it's really like to live there. The characters (three very different sisters and their extended family) are well drawn and compelling, easy to identify with despite their flaws. The strong musical score supports the emotive impact of the film, expressing what the dialogue omits. Overall one is left with the feeling of having looked with compassion into the lives of real people, perhaps gaining insight into one's own situation in the process. The film raises some interesting issues about gender relations, with male characters getting pretty rough treatment and not always deserving it."