Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

It's not quite certain when Alice is, somewhere in the late Seventies or early Eighties, and if you don't read this review you wouldn't necessarily know where she is going. The details though aren't what's important, or rather these details aren't. What matter are the sense of wonder displayed by young Amelia Shelley - she's captivating, captivated by detail, wide eyes watching condensation rolling down a bus window.

Her mother, played ably by the multi-talented Maxine Peake, is taking her to the theatre - to a play based on Alice In Wonderland, of course, with stagehands in black providing special effects while visible on the boards, with snogging couples at the matinee, with ice cream at the interval.

It's a beautifully shot little film. Marianne Elliot's direction, Abi Morgan's script, and Chris Wyatt's editing give us snatches of a day, the odd snippets one recalls or notices - guitar music being played in the foyer, fascination with the vendors - a tremendous amount of effort has gone into making this look right, and it does. There are some oddities in the sound, notably a raptor's cry that sounds straight from Hollywood, though in fairness the North of England would be just right for a red kite. That's enough to jar, indeed in a film so well judged in retrospect it seems even more so, but there might be method to it - often when we recall we assemble the narrative from our more recent experiences, and any commuter can tell you what their route looks like in general, if not today.

It's pretty much the only sour note. The tone of the film is well-judged; a magical day suddenly seems to be veering to the tawdry, then pulls it back with a little bit of magic. It isn't certain anyone can say how hard it is to play an innocent, but Shelley is great, and the subtleties Maxine Peake injects into a few small movements are telling. There's also a Treadaway, Luke of that ilk, and though his participation is small it's still affecting.

The ending is what makes this film, though it's as strong in part because it's a further bit of blindsiding - justifiable, in keeping, fitting, even, but still a surprise, and given what is seen just before refreshing to the palate. The efforts of all involved make Alice a wonder.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2010
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A young girl has a magical experience when taken to a theatrical performance of Alice In Wonderland.
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Director: Marianne Elliott

Writer: Abi Morgan

Starring: Amelia Shelley, Maxine Peake, Luke Treadaway

Year: 2010

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2010

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