To The Wonder - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

To The Wonder Reviews

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February 24, 2016
Weird Little Love Story....
½ January 18, 2016
Terrence Malick crashes and burns. To the Wonder is an attempt at making a meditative film on romance, but it comes off more as hokey with its tedious "love" scenes, laughable dialogue, broken narrative, and heavy-handed symbolism. While at times it can be beautiful, the cinematography doesn't even match what he did in Tree of Life, as it comes off as predictable and tame this time around, nor does this film possess the rich thematic material of Malick's previous work. Honestly, there's no point in me even bringing up the performances. A sexless and meaningless would-be art film, that doesn't exactly raise my hopes for Malick's future projects.
½ January 5, 2016
The silence says it all. During this highly visual beauty of mental travelling, you cannot avoid being sucked into the everlasting question of how to live your life. Malick will never feed it to you with a spoon, never have, never will. This is though very liquid in the submissionary element of fitting in. Perfect emotions can turn into stone, pretty quickly, because they are just moving energy through synapses in mortal tissue.
December 26, 2015
unbearably dumb, pretending to be inspiring. Postcard-style photography. Love seems to be a perpetual and treacly dance, vanishing in a likewise stupid way. A total waste of time
December 7, 2015
It had to happen, I knew it would but I don't think that I was ready for it. To The Wonder is a broken love story and the lowest ranked Terrence Malick film that I have watched. There is little point in going into a story which seems to come and go freely, never caring much for the viewer.
October 28, 2015
Olga, beautiful images. Not Mallick's best.
September 16, 2015
If you know Terrence Malick's work, then you pretty much know what you're walking into when you attend his movies. His films don't look, walk, talk or even sing like anyone else's. He is a cinema artist whose work is quiet, poetic and breaks away from the standard narrative, cutting down just enough plot and dialogue so they don't seem intrusive. With this stylistic approach, he is at work in a sea of mostly cookie-cutters. Other directors tread safe waters of action and romance while Malick is satisfied to let our expectations wade just a bit. We become lost in his tapstry of images. If you're willing to give yourself to his lyrical canvas, you find his work engrossing. If not, you'll find it frustrating and boring. It is strictly up to you.

"To the Wonder," his latest film, is an engaging cinematic poem that explores the mysterious chasms of the human heart. Wherein his last film "The Tree of Life" contrasted the evolution of the universe with his memories of growing up in Texas, this one tries to encompass the evolution of a relationship from courting, to settling in, to marriage, and eventually to its breakdown; all told with stunning images and a winsome soundtrack. What dialogue exists is heard in passing. We hear only what we need to hear, the visual canvas tells the story.

There isn't a lot that we need to be told in "To the Wonder" because, having experienced the rise and fall of relationships in our own lives, we recognize the situation. We meet Neil (Ben Affleck) and Marina (Olga Kurylenko), lovers who are spending time in Paris. He's an Oklahoman; she's a single mother from the Ukraine. We catch up with them after they have already fallen deeply in love in Paris at the pre-historic island of Mont Saint-Michel. Neil brings Marina home with him to Oklahoma, to an area where he works, overseeing the construction of a Southwestern suburb - moving from an ancient European preserve to the modern Middle-American world of rapid reconstruction (she is a stranger in a strange land). The sparseness of the dialogue symbolizes the lack of communication between them.

They settle into a life together, but then real life comes calling. They can't marry by sacrament of the Catholic church (she has an issue concerning a former marriage), among other normal everyday problems that occur in a relationship. What happens in their union is not surprising given what we know of them. They argue, they make mistakes, they reunite, they break-up, they make-up. They love each other from the depth of their being and their reaction to one another startles us. There is a moment when he becomes angry with her leaving her stranded by the side of the road, but what he does next is surprising. You don't see it in other films.

What is surprising is the way in which their story is told. Malick breaks away from the phony, Hallmark version of romance that is obtrusive in most Hollywood romances by telling us just enough about these people to allow us to care deeply about them. Ben Affleck, who has reinvented himself as a director and a much more focused actor, uses his screen-presence to great effect. He is the masculine part of this equation. Olga Kurylenko (seen this month in the Tom Cruise adventure "Oblivion") is an extraordinarily beautiful Ukranian actress, possessing a face and an essence that Vermeer might have captured on canvas. We're less familiar with her than we are with Affleck, and that make her much more of a mystery to us.

Their story is compelling, but it is only part of a larger canvas. Another story happening around them focuses on a Spanish priest Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), who has come to Oklahoma, making him another stranger in a strange land. His eyes tell us everything that we need to know. He is a servant of God, devoted to his work but whose heart is feeling the pangs of emptiness. All around him are people in joy and pain. He officiates a wedding, later he visits inmates at a prison. He visits the sick and the elderly, but there is doubt in his eyes. He wonders about his placement in God's service, has he given himself to the cloth at the expense of a joyful life?

There is also the suspicion that he is feeling confined by his vows. He can officiate, and comfort but as a priest he is unable to have a life of his own. He sees lovers getting married but he knows that he can never experience this. Bardem, in his best work, is an actor who can speak volumes without speaking a word. It's all there in his face. In mainstream films, he plays villains as in "Skyfall" or his Oscar-winning performance in "No Country for Old Men", but this role proves that he can also be quietly and powerfully introspective.

Malick's films are not for everyone. There has been a mixed reaction to this film from critics who charge that he has made a film of empty images. You might agree or disagree depending on your point of view. This is not a popcorn movie by any stretch of the imagination. It is a work of art, a symphony of images with very few words. It is one of those movies that, on the surface seems baffling and incomprehensible, but the deeper we look the more it reveals.
August 19, 2015
Narrative wise, the film lacks direction and is often rather pretentious in attempting to boast its title as an art film and an examination of love. However, the film's big standouts are Malick's visual artistry and the exquisite cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki which allows the film to transcend its narrative flaws. Put simply, it is a beautiful showcase of Lubezki's skills as a DOP.
August 16, 2015
Explores a breakdown in a relationship through strong imagery accompanied by a changing musical score, rather than dialogue, although it's not devoid of this. Experimental, but not always engaging.
June 30, 2015
I usually like Terrence Malick's flicks, but not this one. His story narrations are always aims more on the action (not stunts) than the talkings. Besides, spectacular visuals are highlights and his trademark, and again, not in this film. He really tried, but it was so boring movie in the recent time I have seen one. Pardon me to mock him, but I had to say that the film looks like the one what Willem Dafoe trying to make one in 'Mr. Bean's Holiday'. Except here with me there is no Mr Rowan Atkinson/Bean to make the film an exciting with his genuine editings to add some fun stuffs. Sorry, it goes straight to my 'I should have not watched it' list.

2.5/10
June 11, 2015
From Roger Ebert's: "Well,why not? Why must a film explain everything? Why must every motivation be spelled out?"
½ May 16, 2015
By far one of the most touching and beautiful works from Malick. My personal favorite. Although the film is in his traditional wide, ambient style, the movie feels more deeply focused than it appears. It beautifully narrows in on a central theme as the movie progresses and the peak of the mountain draws to a close in the last shot.
May 12, 2015
Such beautiful camerawork in T.M. movies. I could tell one a mile away. Not unlike Tree of Life with those awful suburbs. 'Morti', her friend is so spot on when they go for a walk around the estate. Never see pedestrians in America. The blurred close ups, Drifting from character to character. There is such beauty to listening to the characters thoughts, almost poetic and haunting is the narrative. There is so much beauty in the script it can be picked up upon within further repeat viewings. For a movie so slow, I could seriously watch again. The romance grows and dies and I can feel the characters heat and going off the boil. She is beautiful, wants to be happy and dances too much. I feel like him. I would tire of it. Am I like him?? I wonder. I love Terence Malick films. This got slated but it's what I expected in the style I've become aquainted with. Class
April 11, 2015
The first hour is mesmerizing. The cinematography in Terrence Malick's films is unreal. Sadly, To the Wonder escalates into utter hilarity halfway through. The dialogue gets lame (ex. "What is this love that loves us?") and I couldn't interpret what Malick was trying to say. Disappointing.
March 21, 2015
This is Malick's reigning masterpiece, a film of profound beauty and subtle introspection. Less mystic and more earthy than his recent work, which was going of the rails in some ways away from his strengths, which this film returns. Malick has entered the realm of masters such as Antonioni and Tarkovsky but has a deep humanity that can't be found in some of those classic art films.
½ March 13, 2015
Malick goes for poetry but forgets that a movie needs a plot. Thank God Olga is stunning in every angle because watching Ben mope around for two hours is quite heavy.
February 10, 2015
Two hours of visually arresting but uninspired B-roll. Days of Heaven or The New World, this is not.
February 6, 2015
Terrence Malick directs this romance drama filmed through his creative cinematic eye. Malick's films are often like visual poems, the images are often much more important than any conventional storytelling, and he knows how to shoot, and he edits in a creative way. "To The Wonder" is interesting, and well made, but it is not as interesting as some of his other work. If nothing else, Malick is at least a unique and competent filmmaker.
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