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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Winterbottom's wondrous modern masterpiece�
This is one of my very favourite films... a fantastical work of social-realist drama that could, very easily be listed amongst the top-five best British films of all time. It presents a depiction of contemporary London that has nothing to do with the cosy fabrication of Richard Curtis, with director Michael Winterbottom instead creating a bleak, alienated intimacy,...
Published on 9 July 2005 by Jonathan James Romley

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Great film but quality of picture could be better
This is a great film but unfortunately the picture quality isn't as sharp as it could be. The film has a star studded cast and the stories of the characters relationships are still relevant today.
Published 16 months ago by Funky


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Winterbottom's wondrous modern masterpiece�, 9 July 2005
This is one of my very favourite films... a fantastical work of social-realist drama that could, very easily be listed amongst the top-five best British films of all time. It presents a depiction of contemporary London that has nothing to do with the cosy fabrication of Richard Curtis, with director Michael Winterbottom instead creating a bleak, alienated intimacy, through the use of roving handheld cameras and rapid cuts, always moving from one character to the next, fragmenting relationships through the use of editing and composition... literally painting characters into the corner of the scene by bringing the lens right up close to their pained, disenchanted faces. It's the perfect visual accompaniment to this kind of story, which focuses on the disparate relationships of three south-London sisters over the course of one long and frantic winter weekend.
It ties in nicely with the themes of isolation, boredom and despair found in the director's other key works, most notably, the brutal killers on the road film Butterfly Kiss and the twitching and perverse I Want You, though with the attention to character depth and personal detail that was so prevalent in his TV adaptation of Roddy Doyle's Family. There are also some broad allusions made to the films of Robert Altman, particularly in the way that each character and their individual story thread interweave, back and forth, throughout the film, similar to Short Cuts. However, whereas Altman is often flippant and cynical about the worlds that he creates, Winterbottom's film instead adopts a sense of bleak-beauty, with the notion of despair and isolation giving way to a kind of romanticism for the desolation of the London streets - with their colourful neon lights and blurred bustle of people - whilst the whole film is further lifted into the heavens through the use of Michael Nyman's subtly poetic score... which, somehow, punctuates the anguish of the journey that these characters have to take.
Most of the characters come across as entirely believable, aided by the unpretentious script by Lawrence Coriat and standout performances from much of the ensemble cast, including Winterbottom regulars Shirley Henderson, John Simm and David Fahm, as well as Molly Parker, Gina McKee, Stuart Townsend and, in particular, Ian Hart (though it's probably wrong to pick favourites with a film of this nature). Despite the hand-held 16mm photography, with it's grainy imagery and natural light, the film still manages to create a sense of beauty, with the director and his cinematographer using the naturally colourful exteriors of the various high-streets and side-streets, in which the drama develops, whilst the use of a cinemascope lens gives the film an epic sense that jars beautifully against the claustrophobic, highly intimate nature of the script. The influence of von Trier's Breaking the Waves is apparent, as is the visual imprint of Wong Kar-Wai's work, particularly Days of Being Wild and Chunking Express, not just in terms of the cinematography, performance and editing, but also in the way that both filmmakers create an energy and an inner-city vibrancy to undercut the bleakness so central to these character's lives.
Winterbottom's direction here is excellent, as he creates something of a contemporary, cosmopolitan ghost story... only here, the ghosts are still trying to survive. His sense of pace when it comes to the story, and his use of movement, lighting and composition (not to mention the way he uses Nyman's music... probably the best example of how Nyman should work alongside the images since Greenaway's The Draughtsman's Contract in 1982) is, as far as British cinema goes, completely unrivalled. As recent films go Wonderland is as affecting, interesting, astounding and accomplished as any I can recall off the top of my head, offering a nice anecdote to the toothless depiction of England in many (more financially successful) films of the same era, and offers us an example of amazing direction, performance and writing in an intimate character based story that doesn't require kid-friendly mythology and CGI hobbits to appear interesting.
I consider Wonderland to be one of the very best British films of the last decade, if not of all time, with Winterbottom creating the perfect depiction of inner-city loneliness, and a personal odyssey into the heart of darkness to rival Mike Leigh's similarly claustrophobic film, Naked (what is it with filmmakers from the North West really bringing out the seedy and desolate side of the nation's capital?). Though it may be a little depressing for some viewers, I still feel that this film is an essential modern masterpiece. The fact that this astounding film is unavailable on Region 2 DVD (someone please release this alongside Winterbottom' other great film, I Want You!!) is a real shame.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where did this film disappear to?, 16 May 2006
By 
P. LOWE "Phil & Steph" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wonderland [DVD] (DVD)
We were fans of the Nyman score and wondered who these eponymous characters were. Wonderland unfolds or rather dances around three women who are the core of the drama like three Graces. A London-based Short Cuts/Magnolia style gives a very realistic feel for London life - more real than the many comfy Hampstead-set ones. Gina McKee and Shirley Henderson shine as does John Simm; the music fits each character like a glove and the movie stays with you, keeping you caring about these tragic people.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad you can now get this film., 24 Nov 2007
By 
Steven Smith - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wonderland [DVD] (DVD)
I love this film, it is one of my favourites.
It unjustifiably dissapeared without trace for a while and I had to order it from the US. Thankfully everyone can now get their hands on it here in the UK.
Even if you have never seen this film, I can guarantee that you will have heard some of the soundtrack. It is a perennial favourite of documentary and film makers - and rightly so. Michael Nyman's score is brilliant.
As for the film itself, it shows a much more 'real' side of London than the Gangster flicks or Candy-covered Curtis images we are so often presented with. Real characters who can really be identified and empathised with.
If you live in London then I urge you to see this film.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Winterbottom's wondrous modern masterpiece, 13 Oct 2007
This review is from: Wonderland [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of my very favourite films... a fantastic work of social-realist drama that could, very easily be listed amongst the top-five best British films of all time. It presents a depiction of contemporary London that has nothing to do with the cosy fabrication of Richard Curtis, with director Michael Winterbottom instead creating a bleak, alienated intimacy, through the use of roving handheld cameras and rapid cuts, always moving from one character to the next, fragmenting relationships through the use of editing and composition... literally painting characters into the corner of the scene by bringing the lens right up close to their pained, disenchanted faces. It's the perfect visual accompaniment to this kind of story, which focuses on the disparate relationships of three south-London sisters over the course of one long and frantic winter weekend.

It ties in nicely with the themes of isolation, boredom and despair found in the director's other key works, most notably, the brutal killers on the road film Butterfly Kiss and the twitching and perverse I Want You, though with the attention to character depth and personal detail that was so prevalent in his TV adaptation of Roddy Doyle's Family. There are also some broad allusions made to the films of Robert Altman, particularly in the way that each character and their individual story thread interweave, back and forth, throughout the film, similar to Short Cuts. However, whereas Altman is often flippant and cynical about the worlds that he creates, Winterbottom's film instead adopts a sense of bleak-beauty, with the notion of despair and isolation giving way to a kind of romanticism for the desolation of the London streets - with their colourful neon lights and blurred bustle of people - whilst the whole film is further lifted into the heavens through the use of Michael Nyman's subtly poetic score... which, somehow, punctuates the anguish of the journey that these characters have to take.

Most of the characters come across as entirely believable, aided by the unpretentious script by Lawrence Coriat and standout performances from much of the ensemble cast, including Winterbottom regulars Shirley Henderson, John Simm and David Fahm, as well as Molly Parker, Gina McKee, Stuart Townsend and, in particular, Ian Hart (though it's probably wrong to pick favourites with a film of this nature). Despite the hand-held 16mm photography, with it's grainy imagery and natural light, the film still manages to create a sense of beauty, with the director and his cinematographer using the naturally colourful exteriors of the various high-streets and side-streets, in which the drama develops, whilst the use of a cinemascope lens gives the film an epic sense that jars beautifully against the claustrophobic, highly intimate nature of the script. The influence of von Trier's Breaking the Waves is apparent, as is the visual imprint of Wong Kar-Wai's work, particularly Days of Being Wild and Chunking Express, not just in terms of the cinematography, performance and editing, but also in the way that both filmmakers create an energy and an inner-city vibrancy to undercut the bleakness so central to these character's lives.

Winterbottom's direction here is excellent, as he creates something of a contemporary, cosmopolitan ghost story... only here, the ghosts are still trying to survive. His sense of pace when it comes to the story, and his use of movement, lighting and composition (not to mention the way he uses Nyman's music... probably the best example of how Nyman should work alongside the images since Greenaway's The Draughtsman's Contract in 1982) is, as far as British cinema goes, completely unrivalled. As recent films go Wonderland is as affecting, interesting, astounding and accomplished as any I can recall off the top of my head, offering a nice anecdote to the toothless depiction of England in many (more financially successful) films of the same era, and offers us an example of amazing direction, performance and writing in an intimate character based story that doesn't require kid-friendly mythology and CGI hobbits to appear interesting.

I consider Wonderland to be one of the very best British films of the last decade, if not of all time, with Winterbottom creating the perfect depiction of inner-city loneliness, and a personal odyssey into the heart of darkness to rival Mike Leigh's similarly claustrophobic film, Naked (what is it with filmmakers from the North West really bringing out the seedy and desolate side of the nation's capital?). Though it may be a little depressing for some viewers, I still feel that this film is an essential modern masterpiece.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understated genius, 26 Nov 2007
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This review is from: Wonderland [DVD] (DVD)
Really this is a beautiful film , it gets under your skin and stays there - a subtle and moving piece about loneliness in modern times.Or any times really i suppose.
One of my favourite films of all time really , can't recommend it highly enough . And check out the absolutely beautiful score by Michael Nyman , it fits to perfection . If the scene on the bus with Gina McKee doesn't get to you then nothing will ......
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic slice of London Life, 31 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Wonderland [1999] [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film hit the art house cinemas to positive reviews but little general public acclaim (bums on seats). Possibly because of the subtlety of the plot, which was difficult to "sell", due to the hadn-held camera work and cinema verite came close to a docusoap. It is the sort of drama which used to be aired first on TV as a play - but which now, rightly, gets a full screen airing (the camerawork here merits it). But the film has a poetic narrative and superb acting by versatile British actors (Gina - Our Friends in the North - McKee in particular). Essentailly melancholic and brooding, it has a strangely upbeat feel (enhanced by Michael Nyman's soundtrack).
The plot is almost French - taking in the entertwined lives of four siblings. There is something of Rohmer here. Perhaps it is also that the London scenery is such an important part of the film. Beautiful, photographic brief shots of parts of London, eschew the hip or kitsch scenery designed for an overseas audience. This film might appeal to a continental European audience, where films are not over-worded and emotion is often portrayed outside the script. Very keen eye for the sadder details of relationships and life on a housing estate, but never patronising or melodramatic. Fantastic film - deserves to be seen on your own with a glass of red wine.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Takes a while to get into.. but, 10 April 2014
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This review is from: Wonderland [DVD] (DVD)
.. well worth it
A seemingly very simple story of 3 sisters.. all quite different - at least in their life styles..
At first you think it's a rather aimless wander through their day-to-day lives.. but pay attention, there are through-away clues to things that seem odd or meaningless which will start to gather at the end.
Don't expect anything earth shattering, and some people may think it a litle slow, but as a character study of several lives and how they interconnect.. very effective.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love Michael Winterbottom, 28 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Wonderland [DVD] (DVD)
I've never seen a bad film by this guy. This is one of the first and also a nice vignette of an 'lower middle class' family in London. Great cinematography as you can always expect from Winterbottom.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great film but quality of picture could be better, 9 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Wonderland [DVD] (DVD)
This is a great film but unfortunately the picture quality isn't as sharp as it could be. The film has a star studded cast and the stories of the characters relationships are still relevant today.
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3.0 out of 5 stars What is with all the 5* reviews? Very average., 29 Dec 2012
By 
This review is from: Wonderland [DVD] (DVD)
I am not quite sure about all the 5* reviews, and I am someone who loves social dramas. It did not bother me that the plot was depressing, I was just massively let down by the story as a whole. I didn't care about any of the characters, trying to carry too many stories means you don't really feel for any of them, a massive disappointment considering the cast. I see what the director was trying to do, and the music is quite well written in to the story, but it was just a big let down.

What I think is meant to be the main character is boring, her sisters are nothing like each other, and they all have different accents, with John Simms pregnant girlfriend (I don't know the actress) struggling to lose her posh accent quite badly.

This has been done before, and with much better delivery.

Bored. And this is my kind of film.
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Wonderland [DVD]
Wonderland [DVD] by Michael Winterbottom (DVD - 2006)
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