Film Scouts on the Riviera 1999


by Richard Schwartz

Film Scouts on the Riviera 1999 is brought to you by:

British director Michael Winterbottom, whose past efforts have included such diverse works as "Jude" and the '97 Cannes entry "Welcome to Sarajevo," tackles far more pedestrian turf with "Wonderland," a drama that offers a weeklong glimpse into the lives of three twentysomething sisters on the go in present-day London. The film seems to evoke a number of sources: the story, telling the divergent romantic tales of a sibling trio, reads almost like a "Sisters MacMullen;" the reveal, by which three distinct story threads gradually converge, seems positively Altman-like; and the no-frills organic shooting style, which strictly adheres to hand-held camera shots and natural lighting, borrows a page from Lars Von Trier's "Dogma" book. Yet the final product belongs unmistakably to Winterbottom, who has turned out a surprisingly epic (the film plays in wide-screen) and, at times, touchingly sentimental film. Unfortunately, "Wonderland" viewers are left to wonder what might have been had Winterbottom not selected such a heavy-handed score, scribe Laurence Coriat's story not fallen into such frequent lulls, and the tone not played so virulently anti-male. Indeed, this is one of those films that the girlfriends will love while the boyfriends might feel alienated. Still, at its very least, "Wonderland" features a talented ensemble and provides viewers with a strong taste of young, urban London.

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