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EUFF 2018 Review: “Wonderland” (2017) ★★★★


Christmas is an excellent family holiday where loved ones gather together to celebrate the spirit of unity in the family. But what to do when you find yourself completely alone? What if kids have grown up and left home, and maybe even the country? What if the husband or wife left for another person? All these questions are tricky and quite depressing sometimes for those who are not sure of how to handle it. Of course, you may disagree, but even the strongest cannot overcome the emptiness of a broken heart, which is where “Wonderland” brings us close to examining one particular example.

It’s Christmas time. Helena is depressed. Her only friend is a glass of wine which she, without hesitation, doubles up whenever she feels necessary. Her daughter is in Portugal, having her own life. Her husband left her for younger woman. All of this is already a great burden for Helena, which sadly turns into an impossible challenge where she seems minutes away from giving up. However, everything changes when she accepts her best friend, Ulli’s invitation to travel to a farmhouse getaway for the holiday. There, she meets a young urban couple with a little daughter who have their own problems, and in a way, even more heartbreaking than Helena’s.

Helena is deadly afraid of spending Christmas alone. That’s why her friend takes the matter in her own hands. Upon arrival to the farmhouse which has a few guestrooms, she meets a third guest, Oiva, a man who similar to Helena, is escaping to the country for Christmas. While the two begin developing a special bond, the host of the house has his own problems to deal with – he has a wife, Sofia, and a daughter. All what he wants is to have another one. However, the life he dreams for himself is way different from the one Sofia is shaping in her mind, which eventually turns a seemingly innocent and uneventful Christmas full of drama, tears, betrayal, revelation and discovery.

In the end, “Wonderland’ claims to be a comedy, however, it skillfully tackles the drama that perfectly fits into the theme of the movie. Directed by Inari Niemi, who leads an exceptionally talented cast in Milka Ahlroth, Mari Rantasila, Anna Paavilainen, Martti Suosalo, and Tommi Korpela, “Wonderland” is an unusual holiday comedy that explores family matters, the fear of beginning a new relationship, the anticipation of the future that’s never meant to come, life in the country that is not so fruitful, and dreams that’s never meant to come true. But again, it’s all about life, love, determination and one particular day, if paid attention to all the signs it gives, that can be one of the best.

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