Winterbottom has used two of Mike Leigh's actors (McKee played one of David Thewlis' female victims in Naked, Henderson, the drink-sodden actress in Topsy-Turvy), and there are unmistakable shades of Leigh—and way before him, Dickens—in the way the movie piles up domestic detail as the sisters stumble through the weekend. With acting as good as this (Ian Hart has a nicely slimy turn as Debbie's immature ex), Wonderland gives you all the expected pleasures of eavesdropping on the intimate lives of others. But I suspect Leigh might snort at the hand-held vérité, the speedup and slow-mo, the snappy editing and the trendily plaintive score by Michael Nyman (who did the same for The Piano). I have no doubt that Winterbottom, who aside from the mean-spirited Butterfly Kiss, which showed off Amanda Plummer at her self-indulgent worst as a lesbian psycho, has made his name with worthy social dramas like Welcome to Sarajevo and Go Now, means well—he wants to shine a little dignity on people who otherwise lead scruffy, unlovely lives—but he's trying way too hard and speaking from a great height, like a genial lord of the manor, beaming as he shows you around the newly renovated servants' quarters.
GIRL ON THE BRIDGE was Directed by PATRICE LECONTE; Written by SERGE FRYDMAN; Produced by CHRISTIAN FECHNER; and stars Daniel Auteuil and Vanessa Paradis. Now playing at Edwards South Coast Village, Santa Ana; WONDERLAND was Directed by MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM; Written by LAURENCE CORIAT; Produced by MICHELE CAMARDA and ANDREW EATON; and stars Gina McKee, Molly Parker and Shirley Henderson. Now playing at Edwards Town Center, Costa Mesa.