A new generation of British filmmakers is proving Tolstoy wrong: Unhappy families are all alike. The distressed clan in Michael Winterbottom’s Wonderland piles on the pathos: Mum (Kika Markham) and Dad (Jack Shepherd) cohabit lovelessly in a mean housing-project flat while their grown son and three daughters, inheriting a Thatcherite legacy of bitterness and alienation, stumble around London exploring ways to be miserable over the course of one crummy weekend.
Winterbottom (Welcome to Sarajevo) shot much of Wonderland documentary/Dogma 95 style; the boisterous performances — by a good cast including Gina McKee (Notting Hill) and Shirley Henderson (Topsy-Turvy) as sisters — have a loose, improvisatory feel. But the energy is sapped by clinging condescension in the guise of compassionate liberalism. Look, demands Winterbottom, using his camera like tweezers, look at these sad wankers. Cut. Wrap. Fancy a pint? C