CATEGORIES Movie NewsTo the Wonder, the latest flick by legendary director Terrence Malick, was one of the most hotly debated movies to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall. It certainly looks good on paper, with Malick at the helm and big stars like Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko.
Some loved it, including the late Roger Ebert. His thumbs-up to Wonder was actually the last review he filed. He praised Malick for his attempt to "reach beneath the surface, and find the soul in need."
Most who saw it, however, didn't exactly love it. I happen to fall into the latter camp. The film is undeniably beautiful, I'll give it that. But beauty alone does not make a good movie. Or even watchable, for that matter.
Wonder drags on and on, with hardly any dialogue and no decipherable point aside from "life is hard, even for beautiful people in love." The movie jumps around, making it difficult to keep up and easy to wonder just how much you missed when you spaced out for a few minutes (as you inevitably would during a flick like this one).
At its core, this seems to be a movie about love and loss. It follows a couple, Neil and Marina (Affleck and Kurylenko) who meet in Paris and move to Oklahoma with Marina's young daughter Tatiana. When Neil won't put a ring on it, Marina moves back to Paris. Neil hooks up with his childhood sweetheart, played by Rachel McAdams. He seems to grow tired of her, and Marina moves back, this time without her daughter. They go to church a lot. But really, who wouldn't when Javier Bardem is the priest!
Some might say that there's more to this film than meets the eye, and that it requires some thoughtful reflection upon watching it. So, with that in mind, I've given it some thought and compiled a list of the top 10 things I learned from watching To the Wonder.
(If you're worried about spoilers, don't be. It's hard to give things away when there isn't a plot!)
1. It sounds artsy when you whisper everything instead of actually talking.
2. Silent Midwestern men are irresistible to beautiful women from around the world -- stunning Parisians and alluring ranchwomen alike.
3. It's totally normal to have a handsome European priest living in a hick town in the Midwestern U.S.
4. Pearls and denim work quite well together, as proven by the classy ranch-hand ensembles sported by Rachel McAdams.
5. People dance around alone more than you might think. Sometimes they dance around with farm animals (like roosters!).
6. Good-looking people in hick towns don't appear to have any friends, aside from a random foreign woman who pops up out of nowhere to tickle you, yell at nothing and throw your purse into the bushes.
7. Sometimes handsome priests pretend they're not home when crackheads stop by unannounced.
8. Goofing off at the grocery store seems like a lot of fun for adults, especially being pushed around in carts, flashing your significant other and running around with mops.
9. If a strange man dressed completely in denim with a pickup truck gives you a weird instrument you've never seen before, it's impossible not to have an affair with him.
10. Moving across the ocean from your 10-year-old daughter is totally fine if it's for a silent, brooding Ben Affleck. (He'll push you around in shopping carts! Whee!)