- Starring: Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams
- Summary: After visiting Mont Saint-Michel, Marina and Neil come to Oklahoma, where problems arise. Marina meets a priest and fellow exile, who is struggling with his vocation, while Neil renews his ties with a childhood friend, Jane.
- Director: Terrence Malick
- Genre(s): Drama, Romance
- More Details and Credits »
10I loved this movie, and I loved Tree of Life. Amazing to me that some people complain about the plot. Hahahah! This isn't a story, it's a poem and painting set to film. There's no plot. The astounding visual contrasts are presented with very little judgement, it seems to me. Everybody knows Paris is beautiful, but Oklahoma apparently has its own sort of beauty. I saw Tree of Life four times in two weeks, mainly dragging recalcitrant friends along. It got better each time. I'll see this at least twice in the first week, but not planning on taking anyone else. This is better savored alone. Also, I'm really glad Ben Affleck has so thoroughly redeemed himself as a serious artist, and Olga Kurylenko and Javier Bardem were perfect. I don't think there's a more interesting actor than Javier out there right now...… Expand
“To the Wonder” is basically “Like Crazy” seen through the eyes of writer/director Terrence Malick, taking the form of a spoken word, elongateelongated poem and put to film in a nearly avant-garde visual format. But because this is yet another Malick movie that is breathtaking to behold, many people may have been mistakenly lead to believe (by other “critics”) that “To the Wonder” is nothing more than the deleted scenes from “The Tree of Life”. And while this (along with “The Thin Red Line”) would make a great companion piece to “The Tree of Life”, if anything (even though I still believe “The Tree of Life” is a better film) “To the Wonder” has a much more cohesive narrative. In short, past the beautiful scenery and the spectacular cinematography, there is a story here! And a truly powerful one at that.
“To the Wonder” is the simplistic, yet sub-textually laden story of a man’s dreamlike love affair (the man played by Ben Affleck) with a foreign woman (played by Olga Kurylenko). There are also sub-stories about Kurylenko’s character’s struggle between two countries and a priest (played by Javier Bardem) struggling over his faith. Actually, in my opinion, the priest’s story is the most interesting one, even though Bardem is only in this film for a short while. One could almost make a strong thesis that the main love story is simply an allegory for of the priests’ own divine struggle; but maybe I’ve said too much.
With a majestically booming orchestral score from the exceptionally talented composer Hanan Townshend, a plethora of sequences depicting the tides rolling in and the tides rolling out, angelic tracking shots, long gazes with one word answers and a pacing that can only be referred to as” Malick-esque”, for those who are not used to Malick’s style, his tone may seem like more of a distraction that anything. So much so, that understandably if you find yourself not into this movie within the first ten or twenty minutes, you may be likely to agree with those critics who’ve stated that the characters in “To the Wonder” lack the hand-fed backstory (or character development) that the masses are used to. So, if my initial synopsis doesn’t sound like the makings of an intriguing love story, then I’m sure Katherine Heigl or Sandra Bullock will be coming out with a movie in the next few months that may be a little more “your speed”.
And as for the acting, though there is not much dialogue in this two hour movie, the performances all around (especially between Kurylenko and Affleck) are so charged and Malick has such a knack for capturing everybody’s good side, that even something as simple as watching people walk around in cornfields will come across to most as pretty hypnotizing.
Final Thought: If you don’t know by now, Malick makes films that are more about representations and subtext, which lean more toward the term “art” than simply just a movie. Unfortunately this is a film that will probably get swept under the rug after a combination of poor critical response because of the visual likeness to “The Tree of Life” and limited theatrical release, even though Malick stands as one of the best directors of the last thirty years. But that is a shame, because not only is “To the Wonder” not all flash and zero substance, it is one of the most touching romantic dramas to come out of cinema in the past few years. And not only is this the best looking film of 2013 (so far) but most importantly, “To the Wonder” is a film worth seeing because, as a standalone, it is simply a very good film. That said, the first rule of any type of entertainment is “know your demographic”. So, if you are a part of the “unfortunate few” who fell asleep during “The Tree of Life”, then “To the Wonder” may come off as an overlong, overdramatic Calvin Klein commercial.
Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
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