Wonderland

Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Shirley Henderson, Gina McKee, Molly Parker, Ian Hart, John Simm.
MPAA Rating: R for some strong sexuality, and for language.

Review by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
September 29, 2000

I haven't been feeling well lately (everybody: awww, now get on with the review, already), so I just sort of put off a lot of reviews. First up, before this weekend's new batch, is Wonderland, a new British film that takes the Danish Dogme approach to filmmaking.

It's about three sisters in England. First off, there's Nadia (Gina McKee), an aging party girl who's now looking to settle down. Then we meet Molly (Molly Parker), who is about to have a baby with her indifferent husband, Eddie (John Simm). And then there's Debbie (Shirley Henderson), a hairdresser who is raising a son by herself. The boy's father, Dan (Ian Hart), is a no-good drunk who spends his time at soccer stadiums and horse tracks.

Wonderland is one of those unfortunately none-too-rare films that are all premise and no plot. All these characters, and many more, are introduced and carefully fleshed out, but nothing happens to them. Of course, we are all waiting for Molly to have her baby, and Dan to prove that he's an incompetent father, and those things happen, but that's it. All the film amounts to is a knowing, albeit grainy, family portrait.

It's not an official Dogme film, like Mifune, but it certainly follows all of the stipulations. There is no lighting; there are no sets, and the people in the background are definitely not extras. In fact, they seem either surprised or perturbed by the camera.

As I hinted at, the film is very grainy, and looks like it was shot on an old 8mm camera. If it wasn't, then they spent way too much money. The soundtrack is also poorly produced, making the actors almost inaudible with all the noise. If the film itself was interesting, I'd be able to forgive these faults, but Wonderland makes Mifune look like a Jerry Bruckheimer film.

So, that's all that I can think of to say about this immemorable film that I saw last week. Now, I have to forge ahead, and get my other reviews out of the way before actually watching the next Jerry Bruckheimer film.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Wonderland (1999/II)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Wonderland: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan