January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

This one revolves around a core of central characters, but often veers off course and as such, this synopsis will a simple one. But don’t assume the picture is a simple one, as it isn’t, but I just can’t summarize the storyline well, unless I give too much information. And that would be a bad idea, so I will stick this one in here vague and brief, which should work well. The streets of London bustle with all sorts of people with all sorts of stories, but here we focus (at least for a while) on three sisters. Debbie (Shirley Henderson) is a single mother with an active social life, Nadia (Gina McKee) is a single woman who wants a stable relationship, and Molly (Molly Parker) is about to have her first child, but she is filled with internal doubts and concerns. As a closer look is taken on each of these sisters, we’re shown how their lives work and who fits into them, perhaps even who needs to be there and who needs to check out. In a city filled with so many people, will the sisters ever find what they’re looking for?

I had read some reviews of this film, but they were mixed and as such, I was pretty much going into this disc blind. I found most of the film to be average, but some of the performances were terrific and I think the realism is very well done. This takes some rather common situations and uses them well, which keeps things grounded and that is how a film like this should be. I don’t mind fantasy in the least, but in some movies, there simply is no space for that element. Of course, some aspects do taint the realism, but come on, this is a film and not a documentary, right? I think Wonderland moves too slowly at times, but thanks to the good performances, it never lags too much and keeps the viewer interested. I wouldn’t say this picture has a traditional storyline, but there is a movement to it all, via various character interaction and such, so there is a point all of the intake is headed toward. A broad canvas is what we have here, which is then painted upon by a lot of cast members, who ensure it keeps moving along, as it should. I recommend this release as a rental, because while it is worth a look, other films have taken this basic concept and done much better with it.

As I mentioned, this film is saved by the cast members, who seem so natural in their roles, you can almost forget you’re watching performers. This is due also to the equipment used to shoot the picture and certain style choices, but without the smooth, natural performances, those elements wouldn’t have made a speck of difference. This film is loaded with actors, but the central three performers seem to attain more of the spotlight here, as it should be. I’ve always been taken with the work of Molly Parker (Waking The Dead, The Five Senses), so I was pleased to see her present and in such fine form. Her name is not that well known, but I think she is very talented and deserves much more attention than she is given. Also very good here are Shirley Henderson (Rob Roy, Trainspotting) and Gina McKee (Croupier, Notting Hill), both of whom seem well chosen for their characters. The rest of the cast includes Kika Markham (The Price of Freedom), John Simm (Diana & Me, Human Traffic), Stuart Townsend (Trojan Eddie, The Wrong Blonde), and Ian Hart (The End of The Affair, B. Monkey).

Video: How does it look?

Wonderland is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This film was shot to look somewhat like a home movie, to hold a lot of grain and seem almost like a documentary, so that shows here. This looks pretty much like it was shot on home video (but it wasn’t), which means the image is fuzzy and heavy grain is always present. So while I am sure some folks will be mad, you can’t blame Universal, who simply made it look like it was intended to look. The grain dulls the colors and brightens the contrast, so don’t expect much sharpness in the least. But this is how it was supposed to look, so no real complaints.

Audio: How does it sound?

This disc houses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but the surrounds don’t see much action in the end. The musical soundtrack does spread through the speakers at times, but due to the realism wanted here, the sounds remain natural and based in the front channels. Some exceptions do surface of course, but not many and in the end, this even sounds like it is a documentary, which is a compliment in this case. But this mix sounds very natural and has clean dialogue, which is more than enough to manage this material. This disc also contains subtitles in English and French, in case you’ll need those.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

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