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'Wonderland' review: Emilia Jones and Scoot McNairy negotiate poignant father-daughter relationship in 1970s and '80s San Francisco

From the perspective of a young girl raised by a single gay father about a “strong, tolerant, unafraid of the world” woman, Wonderland revealed in Alysia Abbott’s 2013 The strongly personal nature of its origin Every step of the character’s complex evolution is documented together. Like that sometimes strained relationship, cinematographer Andrew Durham’s debut feature often feels stagnant, but arrives at its destination with lucid compassion and a powerful emotional reconciliation. These qualities are brought out very sensitively in the lead performances of Emilia Jones and Scoot McNairy .

American diorama production team led by Sofia Coppola, it’s a bittersweet A mixed story drama about unconventional parenting and alternative families that will resonate best with

LGBTQ audiences. But the feeling of its surging final act will tell any viewer who has ever experienced the amazing reckoning that grief brings.


Bottom Line Not always Be down to earth, but get there eventually.

Place: Sundance Film Festival (Premiere)

Throwing: Emilia Jones, Scoot McNairy, Geena Davis , Cody Fern, Adam Lambert , Maria Bakalova , Nessa Dougherty , Ryan Thurston, Bella Murphy, Isabella Peregrina, Ben Attar, Cab Thompson, Roman Gonzalez
Director & Writer : Andrew Durham, based on the book by Alicia Abbott “Wonderland: A Memoir” by my father
1 hour54 minute

The movie starts at On the phone in the middle of the night, a stunned Steve (McNairy) learns that his wife is dealing with a man she’s been treating for suicidal depression While driving, the patient with the syndrome was killed in a head-on truck collision. This detail will prove important later. Driving from the Midwest to San Francisco in his battered orange Volkswagen. He rejects the suggestion of Alysia’s fastidious maternal grandmother, nicknamed Munca (Geena Davis), that the girl is best raised by her family.

Alysia gets mixed up with drug-addicted mother Paulette (Maria Bakalova), genderqueer Johnny (Ray) when they move into a shared house. Untherston) moves in with laid-back, guitar-playing Southerner Eddie (Cody Fern), who sits on the couch but Jackson’s wife. That doesn’t stop him from sleeping with Steve, a development that Alysia seems to engage with with the same curiosity and otherworldly maturity she does with every magical discovery she brings to the party’s bohemian family.

In an interesting phone conversation where Munca grills her about life in San Francisco, Alysia speaks passionately about her new surrogate family, mentioning her relationship with Johnny in a dress intimacy. “Does your dad wear skirts too?” her grandmother asked, visibly stiff. “Not anymore. He’s gone bad now,” Alysia replied happily.

Choice to have cinematographer Greta Zozula shoot early scenes in grainy mm adds a vivid sense of time and place, and frequent visits to Golden Gate Park with its Dutch windmills and Victorian conservatories add to the idyllic scenery. Steve, Eddie and Alysia fit seamlessly into exciting archival footage of Castro at a time when the village was filled with gay men and an early Pride parade, when the event was known as Gay Freedom Day.

Bringing a writer’s work to life with any kind of vigor can be difficult, even for seasoned filmmakers, and Durham strives to make history Tiff’s development as poet and essayist becomes a dynamic part of the narrative.

Some cultural backgrounds also feel a little clumsy when intertwined through broadcast newscasts – Proposition 6 ballot initiative aimed at banning gays from working in California public schools ; the Harvey Milk assassination; Anita Bryant, who was anti-gay, whose role on the Florida Citrus Commission prompted Steve to remove OJ from the breakfast table.

When the film’s focus stays tight, it stands on firmer footing regarding Steve and Alysia’s ever-changing relationship, especially as she enters the Jones took over the role in high school. After Eddie returns to Mississippi, young Alicia seems unfazed by the steady stream of her father’s boyfriends — one of the longtime fixtures, Charlie, played with warmth and good humor by Adam Lambert — — teenage Alicia begins to pull away.

Back then, Alysia was a Depeche Mode and OMD-loving Brit hipster rocking asymmetrical hair and oversized jackets. (Jones is endearing in these scenes, reminiscent of a young Winona Ryder.) But Alicia becomes less cool about her father’s sexuality, like the first rant about “gay cancer.” The murmur started to spread. When she goes to clubs or thrift stores with her best friends Yayne (Bella Murphy) and Punk Kidd (Isabella Pellegrina), Alysia is only amused by the latter’s constant homophobic jokes. Without saying a word, and keeping Steve at a distance from them all.

However, the real conflict between them is not so much that Steve is gay, but that he is not a parent enough. He romanticizes the artist’s poverty while his daughter wants more comfort. While he believed that making her self-reliant from an early age would help Alysia figure out who she was, she began to resent that she was given too much independence and not enough parental attention. She was also outraged that he shared private details of their lives during poetry readings, including about her mother, which Alysia was too young to understand.

Without a doubt, his judging from Abbott’s memoir, Durham deserves credit for refusing to idealize Alysia’s countercultural upbringing as a perfect balance. But there are also poignant moments of Steve defending himself, telling her that she has a different freedom than he did at her age, when he had to pretend to be someone else.

Their relationship becomes even more estranged when Alysia goes off to college at NYU and then studies for a year in Paris, where she has sweet first serious Relationships – Naturally French Theo (Ben Attar). But on a trip back to San Francisco, she witnessed the AIDS epidemic at a time when the Reagan administration was doing nothing. The reality becomes stark when she meets JD (Cabe Thompson), a sick young man in the care of her father at a nearby shelter.

The storytelling often doesn’t have much of an edge, viewed through a haze of nostalgia and appropriately pin-dropped. But deeper feelings begin once Alysia receives the inevitable call from France summoning her home to care for her father.

The pathos and intimacy of the final stanza are certainly heightened by the parallels between Abbott’s experience and that of writer-director Durham, who Also growing up in San Francisco at the same time, with a gay father who moved in to care for him in the last months of his life.

A quiet but searing scene between Jones and Bakalova, as Paulette leaves her party days to start working as a pharmacist, makes Alicia Fully open your eyes to the heartrending reality of living in a close-knit community of friends who keep dying. During a rare outing to the park, where they spent most of their early years together, Steve forced himself to take long stretches out of the pain and confusion of his terminal illness, explaining to Alicia that he didn’t know how to be a single parent. He reasoned that his stagnant life as a gay man meant that in some sense he and his daughter were entering adulthood at the same time.

It’s a beautiful scene, played with keen sincerity and tenderness by McNairy, which gives this overlong, sometimes underpowered film its ultimate in return.

Full credits 2013

Venue: Sundance Film Festival (Premiere)
Production company: American Zoetrope in association with Artemis, Black Magic, Ourboros Entertainment, Safe Space Pictures

Cast: Emilia Jones, Scoot McNairy, Geena Davis, Cody Fern, Adam Lambert, Maria Bakalova, Nessadoherty, Ryan Thurston, Bella Murphy, Isabella Peregrina, Ben Attar, Cabe Thompson, Roman Gonzalez
Director and Writer: Andrew Durham (Andrew Durham), based on the book by Alysia Abbott Wonderland: A Memoir of My Father Producers: Sofia Coppola, Megan Carlson, Siena Oberman, Greg Lauritano, Lawrence El Sudro Executive Producers: Roman Coppola, Michael Musante, Alysia Abbott, Elena Baranova, Susan Landau Finch, Rebecca Gang, Gary Hamilton, Ryan Ha Milton, Anton Lessing, Jesse Ozeri, Brooks Pu Rice, Karen Salverson, Sacha Shapiro, Nicole Alexandra Shipley, Jeffrey Sobrato, Erin Spitani, Mike Spitani, Ye Ying
Director of Photography: Greta Zozula Production Designer: Olivia Kanz
Costume Design: Maggie Whittaker Music: Michael Penn
Editors: Peter Cabadahagan, Lawrence Klein
Casting: Nina Henninger, Sarah Kliban
1 hour54 minute
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