'To the Wonder' more a beautiful blunder
Never was a film so visually stunning and so intolerable as “To the Wonder.”
Director Terrence Malick presents great beauty, but that doesn't save this pretentious, incoherent mess from insufferable tedium. Straining to be poetic and profound, “Wonder” emerges protracted and vapid, like a parody of an art film.
Case in point: dialogue such as “What is this love that loves us,” uttered in a whispery French voice-over narration by Olga Kurylenko. She plays Marina, and she's musing about her romance with Neil (Ben Affleck).
Marina is a Ukrainian divorcée living in Paris with a 10-year-old daughter. Neil is an American who meets Marina while traveling in Europe.
Neil asks Marina and daughter Tatiana (Tatiana Chiline) to move with him to Oklahoma. Once there, he is morose for no discernible reason. But the free-spirited Marina makes the best of it by twirling and spinning and jumping on beds.
There's only so much anyone can take of someone endlessly romping and half-dancing through fields. By the same token, watching Affleck plod around wordlessly is hardly riveting. And, for some reason, his face is rarely on camera. Mostly, we see his back. His part could easily have been played by an extra.
This is Malick's follow-up to the brilliant “The Tree of Life” from 2011, which resonated as a dreamy meditation on memory and the origins of existence.
Despite its title, wonder is in short supply. Malick squanders cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki's gorgeous visuals by not allowing them to be in service of a compelling story.
In an early scene, Marina and Neil, in the first blush of love, are mesmerized by the feel of their bare feet sinking into sticky wet sand. It's an apt metaphor for a film that slogs around without purpose, mired by its own fascination with itself.
Claudia Puig reviews movies for USA Today.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Review: Redmayne becomes Stephen Hawking for inspiring ‘Theory of Everything’
- Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2’ isn’t about bosses at all
- Review: ‘Penguins’ has plenty for kids and parents
- Commentary: Witherspoon, Ellison are changing movies
- Steeltown award-winner ‘Franksgiving’ ready for premiere
- DVD reviews: ‘22 Jump Street,’ ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ and ‘It Happened One Night’
- Review: ‘Mockingjay — Part 1’ a glum setup for ‘Hunger Games’ finale