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There's little wonder in the working-class lives of Bill, Eileen, and their three grown daughters. They're lonely Londoners. Nadia, a cafe waitress, places personal ads, looking for love; Debbie, a single mom, entertains men at the hair salon after hours; her son spends part of the weekend with her ex, a man with a hair-trigger temper. Molly is expecting her first baby and the child's father acts as if the responsibility is too much for him. Eileen is bitter, complaining about her husband and the dog next door; Bill's a doormat. His West Indian neighbor offers him a drink; her own grown son locks himself in his room most of the time. Will anyone connect during this Guy Fawkes weekend?Written by
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song (T.S.Eliot, The Wasteland)
Although not classified as a film for TV, `Wonderland' is very much in the style of a production for that media, and indeed might even be classified as `soap-opera'.
But forget anything and everything you have seen of that type of film: `Wonderland' is totally in another sphere, with a well-constructed story of a long-weekend, magnificently natural performances and excellent dialogues. One constantly thinks of the theatre playhouse element as the actors carry forward this sociological document, excellently choreographed by Michael Nyman´s music.
Here indeed is a richly rewarding 100-odd minutes of your time. The characters are immediate and thus so real that you cannot but fail to be swept into the story. Intertwining levels from the elderly couple, down through their daughters to the young grandson, all lends palpable reality to the price of living in the backdrops of a teeming faceless city.
Set over the weekend on which the ever faithful and conservative British continue celebrating `Guy Fawkes Night' commemorating the attempted blowing up of the Houses of Parliament by said Guido Fawkes a few centuries ago, the film cleverly brings together ordinary Londoners at a particular moment which undoubtedly is crucial to each of them. The cast is splendid; the performances are exactly right, natural, and thus so realistic; there is no forced over-the-top stuff here. Whereas I can easily sympathise with the symptomatic causes underlying the nonentity of suburban life in gigantic cities, and therefore can easily feel for these people in Winterbottom's very welcome offering in this film, I can so easily again see why, when barely twenty, I took to my heels and left London for other pastures.
Thanks for reminding me, Mr. Winterbottom. But thanks also for a fascinating insight into fine character-making in a very enjoyable film.
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