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Malice in Wonderland


Stars: Maggie Grace, Danny Dyer, Nathaniel Parker, Pam Ferris, Bronagh Gallagher, Matt King, Anthony Higgins, Paul Kaye, Gary Beadle

Director: Simon Fellows

A bizarre, surrealistic Brit crime flick riff on Alice in Wonderland, with the ubiquitous Dyer (five films in release in 2009 and another eight ready for this year!) as Whitey - the White Rabbit - a London cabbie who mildly knocks down billionaire's daughter Alice Dodgson (Lewis Carroll's original surname) as she flees from kidnappers.

Suffering from amnesia, Alice finds herself on a wild ride with Whitey, (who wears two watches as he's always late) to visit gay gangster crime kingpin Harry (Parker) - the Queen of Hearts - and give him a giant birthday cake.

Along the way, Alice, who keeps losing Whitey, meets Cat (Kaye) - the Caterpillar - and ends up at Mad Hattie's diner, where the Dormouse is asleep in junk food, and Marge O'Hare (Gallagher) runs a mobile brothel, to which Alice finds herself added. Only the riddles of grinning DJ Felix Chester (Beadle) - the Cheshire Cat, of course - or a rescue by Whitey can, it seems, help her.

This sounds an awful lot more fun than it is. With his grotesque montage, tilted cameras and flashy editing, Fellows seems to think he's Orson Welles, but hasn't anything like the same talent at assembling a feature film. Alice, of course, doesn't need to be coherent, but this is frenetic, garish and wearying; you'd say it was unwatchable but for the grim fascination of seeing how the writer and director parallel which part of Carroll's fairytale next.

A for imagination, then, but F for execution.

David Quinlan

UK 2009. UK Distributor: Kaleidoscope. Colour.
87 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 01 Feb 2010