Thursday, June 07, 2012

Wonderland UK

Set in late 20th century London, Michael Winterbottom's Wonderland (1999) -- not to be confused with the 2003 James Cox true crime film of the same name that's set in early 1980s Los Angeles -- follows the members of a troubled family over Guy Fawkes night carnivale weekend.

Going by this and some of his other films, and mostly taking an indie film approach, Winterbottom appears to be steeped in literary tradition. Wonderland seems to telescope something like Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters (1900).  He combines literary with cinematic devices -- vivid reds and an overall palette that may be inspired by Jean-Luc Godard. The social aspects bring something from realistic British "kitchen sink" dramas. Rather than Godard's socio-economic analysis, we're delivered a slice of life from within the London working class milieu that's a little like a condensed version of the TV series East Enders.

With Wonderland, we see life in London among fairly ordinary people. The family is not very supportive, beginning with parents who seem to despise each other. The mother is miserable, the father henpecked. Their son has left home and is having fun with a free-spirited woman, but keeps his family issues in mind as a burden. The three daughters operate within limited horizons. One is pregnant, and her husband is in panic mode, ready to flee. The other two find this funny. One of them is divorced with a son and works as a hairdresser -- she's the family mischief-maker. The other haphazardly dates various men and wanders around with a peculiar hairstyle through the London wonderland, a real mixed bag. There's more, but that's the basic set-up.

Today's Rune: Signals.     


Charles Gramlich said...

I just read Ozzy's memoir, which gave some insight into family conditions in England when he was coming up. England is a pretty tough place it seems.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'd forgotten this movie. Thanks for reminding me.