To The Wonder Reviews
The movie was the equivalent of reading a textbook, or instruction manual... dull without a lot of information. I read some reviews about the movie winning some awards because it is meant to focus on the emotions rather than words/dialogue... well, the only emotions I kept having are: impatience & boredom (when will this be over? how much more time is left?), slight confusion (the baby, the priest, the connections of the characters, etc.), and a large dose of irritation and aggravation.
The casual movie viewer isn't any less intelligent or perceptive for not enjoying this movie. I know plenty of fellow filmmakers that don't care for Terrence Malick's work, but, if you have the time, and you're willing to pick things apart, than you'll, at the very least, be compelled by TO THE WONDER.
Over the next 34 years, Malick directed just four films, the most recent being TO THE WONDER, starring Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko and Javier Bardem. Like Malick's other films, this one is light on talk and heavy on visuals.
An American environmentalist (maybe, we're not sure) meets a Frenchwoman in Paris and they fall in love. He asks her and her daughter to return with him to Oklahoma but, while life in their new home starts out well, problems ultimately arise and the women return to France. Meanwhile, a Spanish priest in the same Oklahoma town has a crisis of faith. The American man renews a relationship with his childhood sweetheart who is recently divorced but that ends abruptly when the Frenchwoman returns.
Although I want to remain a Terrence Malick fan, the director makes it very difficult with this piece of tediously ethereal garbage. If spending 112 minutes watching the back of Ben Affleck's head is your idea of a good time, then this film is for you. You can count in the single digits how many seconds his face is seen full on during the film. Olga, for her part, does a great job twirling and prancing around - in their backyard, at the supermarket, on the beach at Mont Saint-Michel (which was once known in France as the Wonder) - but, really, her character whose name we only know from the end credits is in serious need of a dose of Focusyn. She did give up custody of her daughter to her husband (or ex-husband, maybe, we're not sure) so perhaps there were some psychological issues that were never explored. That's the thing with Malick's films. So much is never explored. Everything is in the moment.
The dialogue, which is really just a series of monologues or shared thoughts, wafts in the air for a brief moment before dissipating. Half the time you can barely hear what anyone is saying. Between the combination of Olga speaking in French and the film's spacious shots of Paris, Normandy, and later, Oklahoma, you could be excused for thinking you're watching one very long, boring TV commercial for something like Chanel No. 5. In fact, if think of that awful spot Brad Pitt did last year for the product and extend it to almost two hours, you have this film.
It has been suggested that TO THE WONDER is autobiographical. Malick apparently had a romance with Michele Morette in France in the 1980s. They married in 1985 and they moved to Texas together. After their marriage ended just three years later, he reconnected with and married Alexandra Wallace, whom he dated when they were both students in Texas. Is this movie about the loss of love and faith then? If Malick sees himself as Ben's character (whose name, Neil, we also only find out from the end credits), then he's quite the brooder.
As with most of Malick's films, there was no formal script. Malick would describe the characters and the actors would improvise. That much is quite evident. At least a half a dozen actors, including Rachel Weisz, Jessica Chastain, Michael Sheen, Amanda Peet, Barry Pepper and Michael Shannon had scenes in the film which ended up on the cutting room floor. They are the lucky ones.
Unless you're a masochist, give this film a huge miss. It's deadly boring. Better yet, get a copy of DAYS OF HEAVEN and watch that.
Kurylenko espectacular, se carga la película al hombro. Otro aplauso también para Bardem en su papel de sacerdote y al mostrar sus preocupaciones interiores. Historia paralela, mismo desemboque, para contar la transformación de la idea de amor.
Otro rasgo destacado es el hecho de los lenguajes que se utilizan: francés, italiano y español. Le da mayor realidad y universalidad al mensaje.
This is astounding to me, because I consider all the rest of his filmography good, and most of it astoundingly good. I'm not sure I enjoyed more than 10min of this movie. Some of the shots were nice. Especially the shots with the bison. Those were nice. Can I have this movie with all of the human characters removed next time?