Wonderland is heavy.
Wonderland is the story of a London family who are all exceptionally lonely. Their lives are drab, boring and when they’re not boring, they’re often times depressing and sad. Over one weekend, the family and others around them struggle with various issues in their lives – being single, becoming parents, etc. – and seek to resolve them as best they can.
Michael Winterbottom, who I was not terribly familiar with before this, does an exceptional job. Everything technically about the way the film is shot is very, very good; from the grainy shots to the way he cuts scenes, everything is very well done. The soundtrack is pitch perfect. It has the appropriate moments of mellowness, sadness, and despair without ever going over the top. And it’s a remarkable movie in the sense that everything flows together quite well.
He doesn’t skimp on the characters either. He weaves a tapestry of characters together, letting you see both good and bad sides of the characters and letting you like and dislike them for all their faults and all that’s good about them. The actors in this movie do a phenomenal job. None of them take the one-note, easy direction to their acting, which is nicely done.
The way the movie’s shot often makes it feel as if you’re an observer in the room, rather than on the other side of the screen. And for all their faults, what gets you most about Wonderland is the fact that these characters feel real. They do despicable things and they do good things. They live a realistic existence, one in which no one seems to be quite happy. It’s not a warm and fuzzy, feel-good family; it’s a wholeheartedly believable family that does not necessarily put the “fun” in dysfunctional.
Winterbottom lets you ask your own questions, and make your own judgments about this family, that’s the most powerful thing I think that a director can do; presenting the material and subtly telling the audience, “You decide”.